Smut disease hits cane crops

THE Northern Rivers sugar cane industry has been dealt another blow, with the state’s first case of smut disease found in a Condong crop.

And it is likely that farmers at Broadwater and Harwood will also have to battle the disease, according to the NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative.

Badly affected paddocks will be destroyed, and farmers are being urged to look out for infected plants.

However, the cooperative’s manager of agricultural services, Rick Beattie, said the industry was ‘well prepared’.

“We knew it was coming,” he said.

“The spores are wind-blown, so it was something that we were always going to get.

“But we reckon we’re on top of it.”

The past two years have been tough for cane growers on the Northern Rivers.

Farmers have struggled through frosts and floods, as well as ongoing problems with the controversial cogeneration plant.

The discovery of smut is yet another challenge they must face.

But Mr Beattie said it was hoped the effects of the disease would be minimal.

“We’ve made pretty good preparations. We don’t anticipate any production losses at this stage,” he said.

“Smut will spread to the other two mills – it’s only a matter of time.

“So we’re going to have to make some hard decisions about whether to keep growing certain varieties.

“Farmers are fertilising and spraying cane at the moment, so they will be on the lookout for the disease.”

Over the past three years many growers have taken steps to minimise the potential impacts of smut.

More than 60 per cent of cane in NSW is now planted with smut-resistant and smut-tolerant cane varieties.

Smut has already affected every cane-growing area in Queensland. It was first found in the Bundaberg region in June 2006.

BSES extension officer, Peter McGuire, said early replacement of smut susceptible varieties was the best way to avoid productivity losses. Condong farmers have access to 14 types of smut-resistant or smut-tolerant cane varieties.



Man flown to hospital after being kicked in head by cow

Man flown to hospital after being kicked in head by cow

A man was kicked in the head by a cow on a Northern Rivers property

Colour run a bright idea to support community

premium_icon Colour run a bright idea to support community

St John's College Woodlawn will soon bring the colour run to Lismore

Mayor's big plan to help struggling Lismore CBD

Mayor's big plan to help struggling Lismore CBD

Money back to businesses, changes to rate structure

Local Partners