Well the first few months of 2012 have been and gone, and overall the weather has been kind to us. The wet season finally started to arrive in the last two weeks of February and the Mossman region received around 390mm of rain.
The February total for 2012 was 413.5mm with 1536mm falling in 2011 and the 2012 March total was 962mm with 684mm recorded in 2011. With the rain and at times wild winds there appears to be evidence of grub damage starting to surface in areas around the North. The areas of damage are isolated and I expect it to have a minimal effect on the 2012 crop. With the cyclone season drawing to an end and a relatively dry summer, the crop in all the northern areas is looking like a better than average season.
Another issue that some growers may not be aware of in the northern regions is that Orange Rust has been detected in Q208 in the older leaves on farms in the Mackay area. The current situation is not serious but if this situation changes the industry will be notified by BSES. Inspections are continuing and updates are provided through the BSES website http://www.bses.org.au/Diseases/orangerust.html which includes a map with the Orange Rust areas Highlighted.
In February I also had the opportunity to travel with Don and Steve to most of the ACFA regional meetings. I found these meetings very productive with all meetings well attended. The feedback from these meetings was very encouraging and I look forward to meeting the members from the regions that I was unable to attend. Being able to meet with fellow members from different regions and talk to them on their relevant issues and even their current farming practices was very exciting for me.
In March I also had the pleasure of travelling to Yamba in NSW to attend the 2012 GIVE Day. The ACFA board was successful with a capacity building project sponsored by SRDC where we chose a Next Generation farmer from each of the Mill growing regions to take part in the GIVE day activities. The young farmers that were chosen to attend were all eager to learn and they all interacted well with each other. While at the conference we all had a chance to network with fellow innovative growers and we also had the chance to look at some modified equipment which is at the fore front of innovation in the sugar industry. We visited the Broadwater Co Generation facility and also had the chance to look at some of the bigger harvester cooperatives in the region and their equipment. All in all it was a very worthwhile trip and I hope that ACFA can again have the chance to show our support for Next Generation farmers in our industry with any future events.
On the 3rd of April I had the opportunity to attend the northern variety meeting held at the Meringa BSES station. At this meeting it was agreed that 3 varieties will be released in the North this year. Two of these varities are new and they are Q250 and Q251 and also Q238 will be released in the north this year. Q250 appears to have more of an edge than Q251 but all these varieties should be trialled on your farm under your farming conditions. BSES’s ‘Qcane select’ can also be a very useful tool to help decide which variety to plant and on what soil type. I encourage growers to try ‘Qcane select’ if they are not already using it.
The 34th Annual Conference of the Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists was held at the Novotel Rockford Resort, Palm Cove, Cairns, from the 1 – 4 May, 2012. The Conference culminated with a tour of the Mossman Mill raw sugar bagging plant and cocoa plantation. Delegates were impressed with the innovative diversification of Mossman cane farmers.