The Burdekin is quickly establishing itself as the nation’s superior rice growing region, with two local farmers producing some of Queensland’s highest yields.
Allan Milan of Giru and Frank Pirrone of Ayr achieved outstanding results in the 2015 dry season, with both growers producing more than 10 tonnes of rice per hectare.
According to food giant SunRice, anything above nine tonnes per hectare is a fantastic result, yet Mr Milan produced an amazing 11.1 tonnes.
Mr Pirrone was not far behind with 10.3 tonnes of rice per hectare in his first crop. He is so buoyed by his success that he has already planted a crop for the wet season cycle.
“I really can’t believe it,” he said.
“I didn’t think I’d get the results that I have. It has met all my expectations so far. I’m really rapt about it at the moment.”
Mr Pirrone believes the soil conditioning benefits of mungbeans helped produce the big rice tonnages. He said he had grown and harvested a crop of mungbeans on the same ground that he later put the rice crop on.
“A lot of people know that when you plant soy, mungbeans or any sort of beans, the ground soaks up horizontally instead of going down and we want it to go horizontally,” Mr Pirrone said.
According to Burdekin-based Blue Ribbon Grain and Pulses manager Chris Richards, planting mungbeans or soy beans can improve the soil before the crop of rice is planted.
“It provides a good base for the rice when you’re going to plant it,” Mr Richards said.
“Although it’s not necessary, it is preferable to put a legume crop in beforehand as it can really help.”
Burdekin growers are continuing to turn to rice as an alternative crop with the number of rice growers in the region doubling for this year’s wet season crop.
With construction already under way to expand the Brandon Mill, SunRice’s business development and agronomy manager Rob Eccles said the company was continuing to make plans to develop the rice industry in North Queensland.
“The interest is continuing to increase and, because we’re constructing the mill and securing more rice crops than ever before, we’re expecting the industry to continue to grow,” he said.
“Rice offers a good cash crop between cane crops and the growers are starting to see this opportunity.
“It’s a quick crop – only 110 days – and they get paid quickly.”