With the commencement of the 2011 crushing season, farmers are reeling under the impact of seeing paddock after paddock quickly disappearing before their eyes as harvesting contractor chase cane, attempting to fill daily bin allocation quotes. This is the flow-on effect of the super wet season and cyclone being presented to farmers in the Babinda, Innisfail and Tully regions. Contractors are cutting cane between 10 – 22 tonnes per acre with standover from the 2010 season cutting a little higher.
A farmer from the Silkwood area, one of the hardest hit areas, commented, “ My CCS figures are higher than the tonnes per acre”. Farmers in the Mulgrave mill area tonnes are a lot better with CCS averages on par with previous seasons. The shining light this year so far has been the Arriga Mill on the Atherton Tablelands, with CCS of 14 units and block cutting a 100 tonnes per hectare.
Planting is in full swing at the moment with about 50% of planting completed in the district at mid- August. Planting material has been sourced from off-farm and in some cases, growers have purchased planting material from other mill areas. Early plant has germinated well and is looking good at this stage of growth. Standover and early cut ratoons are growing well at this stage. CCS levels are disappointing compared with average seasons and some standover has been condemned.
Weather conditions have generally been good with cool to cold mornings and mild sunny days. Rainfall has been minimal, with minor disruption to harvesting and planting operations in the district. Farmers are hoping for the favourable conditions to continue, allowing for the removal of the flood and cyclone affected crop – which is financially and emotionally crippling – and to get back to normality as soon as possible. High sugar prices have been around for some time and farmers would like to maximise returns before prices start to head south.