Jason Schaefer works his way through the mud on the final stages of this cane harvest.
Jason Schaefer works his way through the mud on the final stages of this cane harvest. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Cane farmers stuck in mud

HEAVY rain has slowed the North Coast cane harvest as farmers battle sticky conditions and muddy fields.

"It's just mud everywhere," said harvest operator Jason Schaefer.

"Everyone has been impacted by the wet."

Farmers at Broadwater hope to finish harvesting today, while the harvest at Condong on the Tweed is complete and farmers at Harwood on the Clarence hope to finish by Christmas.

Richmond River Canegrowers Association manager Andrew Tickle said it's fortunate growers were able to burn their cane before the rain hit.

"All the cane had been burnt but the water-logged paddocks will make it tough for the last couple of days."

The weather has not been kind to North Coast cane growers in recent years, with cane plants almost wiped out in the summer 2010 floods.

It takes two years for crops to grow, so production will be severely restricted in 2012.

Mr Tickle said he was "quietly optimistic" the crop sowed in August to November this year will do well.

"We need a good summer so that after the poor crop next year we can bounce back somewhat in 2013."



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