We keep saying that last year would be the year to forget; unfortunately the hang-over from the wet conditions in 2010 will be with us for a few years to come in NSW.
We have done an assessment of the NSW sugar cane area. There are about 6,000 hectares that were not able to be planted; or the plant crop was lost, due to flooding and general wet weather, from September 2010 through to January 2011.
In an effort to get as much of this area back under cane production for the 2012-13 seasons, the co-op and growers organisations have combined resources to assess whether there are enough planters available; whether growers can help their neighbours; and if the growers have excess planting material, whether they would be prepared to sell some to their fellow growers.
For many reasons seed cane will be extremely short in NSW in 2011, both in height and supply. The main reason is that there is not a lot of viable planting material from last year’s plant cane and the year old ratoons may not make enough cane to cut for seed.
The NSW crop estimates are expected to be quite low at Condong; while Broadwater and Harwood will cut reasonable crops in 2011. However 2012 will be a year of very poor production for them, due to the two year crop cycle; where paddocks which should now be under one year old plant-cane are lying bare.
Condong will start the season in late June and will be operating on a five day week while Broadwater and Harwood will be on continuous crushing. We may need to consider a different crushing system in 2012.
The NSW sugar industry continues to work with our local State and Federal members to secure a one-off assistance package to replant the crop this year.
The assistance would only be to replace cane lost in the floods; cane that was lost after planting; or was unable to be planted at all in 2010. There will be no assistance for doing the normal planting rotation.
Many growers took advantage of the short window of opportunity that opened right at the end of the soy planting season, with just days to go about half the usual planting was planted in less than a week . While the season has not been perfect for beans the crops will be OK.
Sugarcane smut has now been found at Condong and Harwood although the spread has been slow. Spores have been found at Broadwater with no actual smut being found.
I think we will all have to call on our Aussie spirit this year to get through this very tough season. Good luck to all.