With North Queensland’s sugarcane regions into their second week of flooding, growers are getting anxious about the financial impact the monsoon deluge will have on the 2019 harvest.
CANEGROWERS is working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture to start to assess the damage but it will be some time before the picture is clear across thousands of hectares of flooded cane farms.
“Some areas of sugarcane have been standing in water for many days and we are worried about the effect such a long inundation will have on the cane plants,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “Sugarcane doesn’t like to have its feet wet for too long or to be without sunlight for too long.
“In fact, it may not be until the harvest begins that reduced sugar content from stunted growth and side shoots can be measured.
“Some of the rainfall figures in the districts north and south of Townsville are staggering. The Herbert River region around Ingham has had 2,000 mm of rain since the start of December.
“In the Burdekin region, some farms have recorded more than 600 mm in less than a week.
“Along with the town of Giru and its sugar mill, our members’ paddocks, major roads and the cane train lines have been inundated to a depth of up to three metres in some places.
“We are aware that some of our farming families have also had water through houses and sheds and critical irrigation infrastructure such as pumps have been destroyed.”
CANEGROWERS Insurance representatives are working with policy holders to expedite claims.
In the Far North, growers around Cairns and Mossman are assessing the impact of wild wet weather at the end of December while also contending with ongoing rainfall.
“That was their biggest flood event since 1996 and its left damage to creek and river banks and washed out paddocks with cane plants ripped out by the roots,” Mr Galligan said.
“With the rain moving south into the Mackay region now, this is still an evolving situation and our highest priority is the safety and welfare of everyone who is affected.
“CANEGROWERS will be working with State and Federal agencies to respond where necessary, assess the impact when it is safe to do so and put in place recovery plans as soon as we can.”