Maryborough Sugar Limited (MSL) and Tully Sugar have bought up large parcels of forestry land, in order to return it to sugar cane production. The two companies have been land banking to secure their perimeters of supply and will lease or corporate farm this land to protect their respective patches.
A wet March/April has caused lodging with some stool tipping due to cane grubs. Crops around Innisfail look set to achieve around 80t/ha. Cane is starting to arrow and orange rust is evident but mild to date.
Seasonal labour for farms, harvest and mills is in short supply, while mills have been investing strongly in maintenance programs.
In 2012, cane north of Babinda is set to go to Mulgrave, while preparations are in tow for Tableland mill to have a crystal sugar backend added.
Low Banana prices are encouraging farmers to switch to cane but mill incentives aimed at this are annoying dedicated cane suppliers who feel that they should receive a loyalty bonus.
Coastal mills are looking to commence early to mid-June while the Tableland mill should start in May.
On the negative side, farmers concerned about embedded costs and collateral effects of the upcoming carbon tax. They are also concerned about the RD&E issue and in particular the BSES issue.
On Monday 30 April a strong showing of farmers and community members attended a Farming for the Future forum in Babinda, entitled ‘Waste to Profit’. The purpose of the forum was to inform the public and primary producers in particular, about the latest developments in primary production innovation that is occurring throughout North Queensland. The majority of the topics were on profitable innovations using cane fibre and other biomass.
There were presentations from Ethtec, NQBE, Envirofibre, GS Energy, KFSU, Biomass Technologies Limited and Aquapax Australia.
Farmers are looking forward to a successful season matched by a strong price.