It started as a few yellow leaves in the far corner of the Petersen’s Nikenbah property, but in less than a month the mysterious yellow canopy syndrome has spread across about 10 acres of prime sugarcane.
The Petersen family has been running thousands of acres of cane in the region for more than a century, and has faced everything from floods to drought and low sugar prices.
But just when they thought their luck was turning after last year’s bumper season, the family has been faced with another potentially devastating hurdle.
When David Petersen took the irrigator out to a paddock on the north side of his property about three weeks ago, he noticed his cane was looking unusually sick.
“When it just kept getting worse I asked (Sugar Research Australia) to come and have a look at it,” David said.
“It’s another thing we have to deal with; flood, drought, flood, drought, low prices and now this.”
Yellow Canopy Syndrome was discovered in far north Queensland in 2012 but up until now has not been seen south of Mackay.
The Queensland Government and Sugar Research Australia have spent $7 million trying to figure out how the syndrome is spread, what causes it, and how to manage it.
So far SRA has had not been able to find the answers to any of these questions.
SRA executive manager for strategic initiatives Dr Frikkie Botha said growers should follow best farm hygiene as a precaution.
“This includes ensuring that the crop is provided with the inputs that it requires, and that farmers use clean seed for planting material,” Dr Botha said.
Source – Fraser Coast Chronicle