TABLELAND cane growers are praying for finer weather today and tomorrow so they can kick off what is being touted as a $2.1 billion harvest for the industry Australia-wide.

Growers on the Tableland were scheduled to be the first region to start crushing cane today, but last week’s rainfall has delayed the harvest until at least tomorrow.

Peak industry body Canegrowers has predicted sweeter times ahead for local growers, with chief executive officer Steve Greenwood claiming the impending harvest was marked by more optimism than seen in a decade.

More than 31 million tonnes of cane is expected to be crushed this year, with a production value of $2.1 billion predicted.

Tableland Canegrowers deputy chair Maryann Salvetti told The Cairns Post cane farmers were feeling positive about the season.

"The crops look really good and the price is good," she said.

"It is just a matter of seeing whether this weather is going to be good to us. But everyone is positive and happy to start."

Mossman will begin harvesting on June 13, and local Canegrowers chairman Drew Watson said spirits were high despite minor flooding last week.

"Everyone has got a bit of confidence back into the industry," he said. "Hopefully a dry crushing, a good average crop and a bit of an injection from the new mill owner and we should be ready to improve."

Mr Watson said prices were expected to come down slightly, but with a lower dollar, farmers would still come out of the season well.

Mr Greenwood said the industry had rebounded faster than expected from last year’s natural disasters, and the resurgence was being driven by an Asian market hungry for Australian sugar.

"After a decade of doing it tough, all eyes will be on mill performance in season 2012," he said.

Tully and Innisfail are also expected to begin harvesting this week, followed by Mulgrave next week.

source: cairns


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