Richmond River Cane Growers Association chairman Rod Greentree%examines his flooded sugarcane fields.
Richmond River Cane Growers Association chairman Rod Greentree%examines his flooded sugarcane fields.

Floods may cane farmers

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au ROD GREENTREE, chairman of the Richmond River Cane Growers' Association, says although floodwaters have inundated his back blocks, his sugarcane crops should be all right.

"The larger, more advanced cane is probably going to be OK, but some of the younger cane is in jeopardy," he said.

Anyone with small cane could be in a spot of bother if the plants remain under water for too long because it gets too hot, he said.

Mr Greentree said a better assessment of the effect on sugarcane growers would be made when the floods subsided.

"If we get more rain we could be in trouble," he said Mr Greentree said that sugarcane grower also grew soybeans as a rotation crop, and he feared many of them may have sustained damage to their crops.

"Soybean plants are only inches tall, so they'd be completely under water in many places," he said.

"I imagine they'll be gone for people who have been affected by the floods."

Rick Beattie is agriculture services manager at the Broadwater sugar mill.

He said it was too early to say how much of the cane crop might be lost.

"Sugarcane can tolerate a fair bit of water logging," he said.

"After three or four days, that's when you get losses. "It depends on how long the water's going to stay there and how hot it gets.

"Hot water will effect how it goes, so it all depends on how quickly the river drops."

At Fairy Hill, north of Casino, water has had a devastating impact on soybean crops.

Brett Slater farms broad acre crops and said he had about 100ha of soybeans planted which had all gone under in the floods.

"We've got another 100ha which are meant to be planted," he said.

"If it fines up in the next two weeks we might have a go, otherwise we'll have to give it a miss this year." Mr Slater said it had been 50 years since a flood had covered the property.

"We're on a bit of a learning curve and don't know how much they'll handle," he said.

"We need a week to 10 days to see what will happen. "The mud and silt on the plant stops them from breathing and growing.

"Roots are exposed on some plants, so some might survive and some might not."



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