Our benchmark flood occurred in 1954. The January flood in 2013 was only marginally lower and in some areas, only 20cm lower than the 1954 flood.
The Richmond River flooding, while extremely bad in some areas, generally was not as severe as the Clarence and Tweed.
The Clarence industry suffered by far the worst flooding in NSW with two major floods and in some areas of the valley, three.
The losses in all districts were very heavy for many individual farms and districts. While not all growers have been declared for category C funding, the $15,000 for infrastructure repairs will be welcomed by those who have been. Category C allows for the repair of infrastructure things likes floodgates, levies and sand erosion.
The industry in NSW has adopted a holistic approach to ensuring all growers who have suffered damage can get the category C funding.
The positives that have come out of the floods are.
1. The NSW industry has an estimated crop of 1.42m tons of cane available for harvest and while we are still awaiting the last few grower estimates to come in, this estimate is looking achievable.
2. There are a few varieties that have survived the flooding much better than any others. Q208 is the standout variety along with Q183. Q240 in the month after the flood looked for all intents lost but now 4 months on it appears that its recovery may be as good as any other variety and while it is only just starting to make cane, it looks like every stool survived and will make a two year old of sorts. The other variety to show flood resistance is Q232.
There will be a major planting once again this year in NSW with the above varieties in demand. One of the major varieties in the Tweed (over 30%), Q211 was almost a total wipe out and while it may make a come back in the future, the planting of it will be limited this year.
The industry in NSW is surveying the growers to assess the ways in which the flood egress may be improved in each district. This will be a comprehensive assessment and will be used to encourage government at all levels to address this on-going problem.
All state members of Parliament in the cane growing areas of NSW, along with senior bureaucrats have already met with local farmer groups to assess how this may be facilitated.
NSW cane farmers have once again taken a hit but in true farmer fashion they are saying ‘next year will be better’.