It is the mystery that just can’t be solved and it has returned to haunt cane growers in 2016 — the ever elusive Yellow Canopy Syndrome, or YCS as it is better known.
The disease affects the sugar content in cane crops and it has already ramped up in the tropical north.
Last year it reduced Queensland cane growers production by 10 per cent, possibly more.
“I’ve been away for four or five days on industry duties and I came back to Mackay and I rang my brother [and] he said ‘go down to this paddock, you’ll be surprised’,” he said.
“In level of YCS is ratcheting upwards and you can see it [the crop] is exhibiting the tell-tale signs of YCS which is the parallel yellowing of the leaf.
“This is now elevating to a vary dangerous level in this crop.”
Towards the end of January Mr Schembri had seen little signs of the mysterious disease and held hope there may be little YCS to affect sugar cane crops throughout the Mackay region this year.
He said it had looked like his best crop in 10 years, but now he would have to downsize his expectations, as would others.
“That is money, it is going to hurt me in the pocket somehow and so like every other grower we are just desperate to find out the cause of this YCS so we can start mitigating the impacts,” Mr Schembri said.
YCS will hurt growers bottom lines
Last year Mr Schembri lost more than 1000 tonnes of his crop to YCS, which said was a conservative estimate; that left a hole of around $40,000 in his income.
Other growers also saw their production hurt to the same extent, or more.
Mr Schembri said the industry had lost tens of millions of dollars but it was too early to say what the impacts would be for 2016.
“I’ve seen forecasts that there have been losses from one year to another from anything $40 million to $70 million, it could be even more or less,” he said.
“Either way it is a major problem to us … I have had to knock ratoons out that I would have budgeted for five or six years, so that is a cost to me and a lot of other growers,” Mr Schembri said.
Source – ABC