This was the season the entire sugar industry had hoped would bring a return to normality.
But now that optimism has turned sour as heavy rainfall along Queensland’s east coast has stopped crushing at all 15 sugar mills, from Sarina north to Mossman.
In Australia’s largest cane growing region, the Burdekin, less than 10 per cent of the eight million tonne crop has been harvested after the first month and crushing is unlikely to start again for four weeks, as a result of heavy rainfall of up to 150 millimetres.
Sucrogen’s John Pratt says the company’s eight mills were starting to hit their straps after a delayed start, but further delays mean the season now could extend into December.
That’s a prospect that will bring little joy to growers whose minds will already be turning to future planting.
Further south, mills at Proserpine, Mackay and Sarina face the same predicament.
Paul Schembri, the chair of Mackay Canegrowers, says there isn’t a dry cane paddock in the district, including on his own farm, four kilometres north of Mackay.