Worst year in living memory for canegrowers

CANEGROWERS are looking at their worst year in living memory, with more than 40 farmers unable to produce a crop for this season's crush.

Some growers, such as Pocket farmer John Stevens, were still recovering from flood damage when a one in 140 year drought crippled cane production across the region.

To make things worse, much of the cane which was already too short to cut was ruined by the first frosts of winter.

When the Maryborough sugar mill kicks into gear in the next two weeks, about half of local growers will have nothing to crush.

The normal annual crush of 700,000 tonnes will likely be little more than 300,000 and the mill itself will only run five days a week.

It's a dire situation which Canegrowers Association Director Ashley Petersen believes will have all of Maryborough "feeling the pain" within the next six months.

"A very short season with shorter crushing days will impact the whole town," Mr Petersen said.

"If the dollars aren't going to growers, they are not going to local business."

While he acknowledged some help was available in the form of drought assistance, Mr Petersen said the last thing farmers wanted was a handout of a loan hanging over the heads.

"It's one of those things you can't really do anything about," Mr Petersen said.

"For most of them, it will just be a case of toughing it out and hoping for a better year next year."



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