FLATTENED: Cane crops that were flattened out by strong wind last weekend shouldn't cause farmers too much concern.
FLATTENED: Cane crops that were flattened out by strong wind last weekend shouldn't cause farmers too much concern. Jarrard Potter

Rain right on time for sugar cane

LAST weekend's deluge of rain came at just the right time for the Clarence Valley's cane farmers, with much of the lower river crop in a drought situation before the soaking.

Clarence Cane Growers' Association executive officer Pat Battersby said the rain was very welcome.

"It was excellent that we got that rain when we did," he said.

"There were varying amounts that fell in the different parts of the sugar cane growing areas, anywhere from 130mm to over 200mm, but no-one is complaining. We were officially in drought, so the rain was very well welcomed.

"Now there is a bit of moisture in the ground it usually helps prevent frosting, so with that moisture the likelihood of frost has been diminished."

Mr Battersby said further rain was predicted for Sunday and Monday, which could disrupt the harvest, which was due to begin next Wednesday.

"The forecast is for anything up to 130mm over the two days, so that's significant," he said.

"If that occurs we may have to delay the start of the harvest, but we will wait and see. We've got a bit up our sleeves, and we can cater to weather events, so we will be able to handle it if the rain does come."

Strong winds over the weekend managed to flatten some cane crops, especially close to the coastline, but Mr Battersby said it shouldn't be a major concern.

"It's not a big issue, sugar cane is a very resilient crop, and it should stand back up soon and continue to grow," he said.

"The only issue is if there is extreme winds and the ground is wet, then the cane can tip out of the ground, but we haven't seen any of that so we don't expect any serious damage."

The Clarence Cane Growers' Association held their annual general meeting on Tuesday, and with a mild winter forecast with more rain, Mr Battersby said the association was confident on a good season ahead.

"We're very optimistic about the future of the industry," he said.

"Returns on crops are exceptionally good right now, and after some devastating years in NSW due to flooding, the industry is now getting back on track.

"There was 2.3million tonnes of cane crushed in the three major growing areas of NSW last year, and we have similar expectations this year.

"We've been here a long time and we will be here for a long time yet."



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