Monday 26th Aug, 2019

Queensland floods could damage 2019 sugarcane harvest

Cane damage at Hoseshoe Lagoon near Giru in the Burdekin
Image: Canegrowers

As North Queensland enters its second week of flooding, the state’s sugarcane growers association is unsure of the extent of the damage caused to the 2019 harvest.

Sugarcane association Canegrowers is working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture to assess the damage, however it may be some time before a clear understanding of the situation is available.

Canegrowers chief executive Dan Galligan said some areas of sugarcane have been standing in water for many days, leading to concerns about the effect of the inundation on the cane plants.

“Sugarcane doesn’t like to have its feet wet for too long or to be without sunlight for too long,” Galligan said.

“In fact, it may not be until the harvest begins that reduced sugar content from stunted growth and side shoots can be measured.”

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The Herbert River region around Ingham has reported 2,000 millimetres of rain since the start of December, and some farms in the Burdekin region have recorded more than 600 millimetres 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,” Galligan said.

“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 said its insurance representatives were working with policy holders to expedite claims.

The association also said it would be working with state and federal agencies to respond where necessary and to put in place recover plans as soon as possible.