What a difference a flood makes: North Queensland crops ruined
By Sally Rafferty
A month ago Michael Waring’s sunflower fields were golden — now nearly 1000mm of rain and widespread flooding has turned them brown.
Mr Waring woke on Friday last week to discover his entire cane and sunflower crop at Abwergowrie, north of Townsville, had gone under.
Walking through his decimated crop this week, the north Queensland farmer said a major rain event was probably overdue.
“It’s devastating but it’s not an unusual event. This is what happens, we think somewhere between every five to 10 years on average,” he said.
But the grower said he was one of the lucky ones, and is not expecting the water to impact him too severely heading into the June harvest.
Michael Waring’s field was filled with sunflowers a month ago. (Supplied: Terrain Natural Resources Management)
Others were not so fortunate — Steven Castorina anticipates he will have a damage bill of more than $40,000.
“Heartbreaking … I’m pretty passionate about what I do,” he said.
“We’re getting more and more damage from the riverbank, the riverbanks are letting go more and more the last 10 years.”
“We’ve got the gear to do it all ourselves but it still takes a lot of man power and hopefully we’ll get there.”
Herbert and Ingham Cane Growers manager Peter Sheedy said many farmers were still counting the cost of the flooding event.
“There is no doubt the stress of this event will certainly limit the potential of this crop’s growth from here to the harvest,” he said.
“We’re hoping that it’s not going to be too severe, but when you look at the cumulative effect of that it’s probably many millions of dollars.”
Wilmar Sugar has undertaken aerial assessments of its track network and concluded 20 per cent of its 600-kilometre network has been affected by floodwaters.
Industry figures remain confident the crush will still get underway in June.
Sunny conditions have helped farmers in the their recovery work, but concerns have now turned to a build up of mud on the cane, affecting the overall sugar content.
Michael Waring is confident to still produce a good crop for the June harvest despite recent damage. (ABC News: Tom Edwards)
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