Heading for record dry run

This year's cane harvest will be one of the smallest the Valley has seen in the past 20 years due to recent floods. Farmers hope the dry spell will last until planting has finished.
This year's cane harvest will be one of the smallest the Valley has seen in the past 20 years due to recent floods. Farmers hope the dry spell will last until planting has finished. Lee Constable

PROVIDED it is not raining as you read this Grafton will be on the way to recording its driest August since 1880.

Meteorologist at the BOM, Alison Skim said yesterday the Grafton station has received just 1.2mm of rain for the month of August so far.

That small fall occurred on Wednesday, August 24, when a scattered thunderstorm glanced Grafton.

While town dwellers have been enjoying the sun, the dry spell has also been great news for the cane- growers.

"This weather has been a good break after the past couple of years and we're lapping the dry weather up," said Clarence Cane Growers Association manager Pat Battersby.

The cane harvest has been rolling on over the past couple of weeks and farmers have been glad to get some dry weather which makes the harvesting process easier and cheaper.

Harvesters have been able to use rubber-tyred chaser bins to transport the crop across the cane fields instead of steel-track chaser bin vehicles which are far more expensive to run.

"We have been able to harvest with rubber-tyred infield transporters and that has been a dream," said Mr Battersby.

"Doing it that way is much more cost-effective when compared to harvesting with tracked infield-transporters."

Mr Battersby also said the price for cane is looking reasonably good but the crop that is in the ground at the moment is small because a lot of cane was wiped out by the floods over the past two years.

It is estimated that this year's cane harvest will be one of the smallest in the Valley in the past 20 years.

The reason is that planting over the past two years has been severely hindered by floods.

"The January 2011 and January 2012 floods destroyed a lot of what was planted."

Mr Battersby welcomed the dry spell as a much-needed break and hoped that the dry weather would continue until after planting was finished.

Then he said he hoped there would be light spring rains to nourish the incoming crop.

Topics:  bom clarence cane growers association farmers rain sugar cane

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