Taking up the baton

Taking up the baton

The CANEGROWERS Policy Council has met amid a genuine feeling of optimism for the 2022 season. It was an upbeat gathering of 20 growers representing every sugarcane region in Queensland working on the issues that are most important to our industry.

The world sugar price is remaining at a strong and profitable level for Australian growers although world events are impacting fertiliser and fuel costs which is making farm budgeting a challenge.

At the meeting, the diverse and different districts reported that this year’s sugarcane crop is looking promising. Ahead of final estimates due to be done next month, some regions at this stage are reporting a crop that could be 10% bigger than last year but of course weather can change that in a heartbeat.

We hope the milling companies have spent the time and money needed to avoid some of the reliability problems that marred the season in 2021 in some regions.

While we have all complained about the hot weather through northern regions of Queensland, sunshine is what sugarcane needs to grow tall and make that all important juice in its stalks.

Rain for the majority of regions has fallen in just the right amount to keep the soil moisture at the levels required for good crop growth.  For others, though, it has been challenging. In some part of the far north, particularly around Tully ironically, there’s not been quite enough rain and for some in the south, Maryborough and the Gold Coast, there has been too much leading to flooding.

You may have seen posts on social media and read in this newspaper that our industry is in need of workers for the 2022 season. Harvester drivers, truck drivers and operators for the many different haulout vehicles are in demand across the sugarcane regions.

This seasonal workforce is vital to our ability to get the cane from the field to the mill, where it is made into the export raw sugar that brings prosperity to our state and nation. If this work interests you, please visit the CANEGROWERS website for more information and to list your skills and experience.

This week’s CANEGROWERS Policy Council was also an emotional farewell to eight grower representatives who are retiring from the role as part of our grower election process, held every three years. Between them they have decades of experience and I thank my colleagues for their service and dedication to their fellow growers.

Facing CANEGROWERS is a time of renewal. The outcome of the election process will be declared for each region in mid-April and new representatives will take their district board positions from 1 May. For the Policy Council, the continuing 12 growers will be joined by eight new members when it next meets in May.

I hope there’s a similarly positive story to tell bout the 2022 sugarcane crop in two months when we will be on the verge of seeing harvesters, trains and mills firing up for the crush.