One of the driest wet seasons on record has done irreversible damage to this year’s cane crop.
One of the driest wet seasons on record has done irreversible damage to this year’s cane crop. Ultrakwang

Welcomed rain not enough to save M'boro sugar season

ALMOST two weeks of decent rainfall has given Fraser Coast farmers "a glimmer of hope", but one of the driest wet seasons on record has done irreversible damage to this year's cane crop.

Cameron Waterson from peak industry body Canegrowers said the recent rain had given growers in the area a better outlook for next year, but they would be lucky to reach 500,000 tonnes of sugar for this season.

"This season will certainly improve a bit from this, but we're not going to be anywhere greater than we thought we were going to be prior to the rain," Mr Waterson said.

"It's an interesting situation when the lawns are growing dramatically and the cane is picking up a bit, but itcane is so far behind that it won't  get to the height where it will be a productive crop, so it has to stay there for the next season before it can be used."

Mr Waterson said two big concerns for growers in the area, moving forward in the year, would be frost in winter and meeting the amount of sugar they had nominated to buyers.

"When it's really low to the ground frost can really hurt it, [the sugarcane] and while we didn't get a frost last year, it's closer to that happening as well," he said.

"We've had growers in the marketing process of their crop, in selling the sugar they're producing, they have to effectively nominate how much sugar they're going to create each year and in that process quite a few previously nominated set tonnage for this year that we've had to take steps to try and remove from their obligation, where they clearly can't make it."

Mr Waterson said an ideal weather pattern between now and harvest time in about June or July would be more steady rain and a barmy winter with no frost.

"That way things might actually improve," he said.

"We might actually reach the 500,000 tonnes this year, at this stage that's the best scenario."

The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted rain for the Fraser Coast until at least Sunday, but after that, the changes of steady showers in the region are set to decrease.

Although there is a cyclone predicted in Northern Queensland, Meteorologist on duty for BOM Brett Harrison said they were "not expecting to get anything in southern Queensland" from the storm.

Mr Harrison said after Sunday, "chances are pretty slim" for the area receiving steady rain.

Heading into next week, there will be "only a slight chance" of rain in the area.



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