Col Clayton is a worker on Tom Malouf's cane farm which is suffering due to lack of rain.
Col Clayton is a worker on Tom Malouf's cane farm which is suffering due to lack of rain. Robyne Cuerel

Canegrowers may lose $50 million this harvest

MARYBOROUGH canegrowers may lose $50 million this harvesting season as the drought continues to take its toll.

Since March 1 Maryborough has only received 9.4mm of rain, usually scattered showers.

As the lack of rain has slowed cane growth, it is now at a critical point as the crop starts to die.

Canegrowers Maryborough director Jeff Atkinson said some growers will lose their entire income.

He said the crush, which is due to begin in July, may not run for its usual length.

"We're not sure yet what the length of the crushing (season) will be," he said.

"It's hard to tell but it will be more than last year," he said.

Last year the local sugar industry lost about $10 million due to the floods and wind in the region- and this year they will lose more.

"Heaps more - could be more than $50 million really but I'm only guessing at this stage," he said.

"Its certainly a disastrous situation - there's no other way to explain it."

However sugar prices are not expected to climb because sugar is marketed on a world price.

"It just means everyone's income is less," Mr Atkinson said.

Maryborough cane grower Allen Birt said he's never seen the land as dry.

"There won't be any cane cut off that this year," he said.

"It's getting to a stage areas are dieing out and they won't recover."

Canegrowers chief executive officer Brendan Stewart met with local growers for crisis talks on Wednesday.

"It's important for us not only to talk about the immediate impact and cost impact but also to start to plan for a full and proper recovery once the drought finishes," he said.

Fast facts

  • $50 million expected to be lost this season
  • $10 million lost last year
  • Only about 200mm of rain has fallen this growing season


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