Fires hurt cane industry
THE last couple of weeks of weather conditions will go down in history for its variability.
The central region went from what has been described as unprecedented fire storm conditions on November 28 to receiving some of the most welcome rain we have seen since last April.
Unfortunately, Canegrowers Mackay has to report that around 1.4 per cent of the Mackay Sugar area has been impacted by the fires that have not only taken a toll on next year’s crop but also on the well-being of some of our members.
Canegrowers Mackay is aware of 374 hectares of cane land that were burnt in the Pioneer Valley and 600 hectares also burnt at the Blue Mountain area, with these two areas being the worst impacted.
We have also been supporting one grower in the Pioneer Valley who lost his crop, house and sheds, as well as other growers who lost sheds and irrigation and farm equipment.
The Carmila fire was mostly contained in the hills with about six hectares of cane area burnt at Carmila west. That fire was burning for at least three weeks prior to the high risk period last week.
Mostly inhospitable and inaccessible country was burned, however some cattle properties on the western side of the ranges were affected.
Regrettably, we are hearing that there is a reluctance by government departments to allow the burning of these forested areas because of the environmental impacts created by fires.
The conditions that need to be followed by adjacent property owners wanting to control-burn these areas along with road reserves and roadsides are, to say the least, onerous.
This in turn deters burning making it difficult for property owners to control-burn, which then leads to the adverse fuel load situation, as seen in this recent bushfire event.
An inquiry being implemented by the Federal Government into the causes of this event and to identify and address these issues is welcomed by Canegrowers Mackay.
The State Government needs to take greater proactive measures with landholders to reduce fuel loads on crown land, which in turn reduces risk to crops and neighbouring properties.
There has been a spectacular display of community cohesion throughout these difficult times where they have come together in support of each other.
Many not only provided their own time but also provided their own private equipment such as graders, bulldozers, tractors and firefighting equipment, in addition to working long hours in an attempt to control these fires.
As this is my last comment for 2018, I would like to thank all Rural Weekly readers for their interest in the local sugar industry the part it plays in our community.
I also want to take this opportunity to wish you one and all a very happy Christmas and a good start to 2019.
Please whatever you are doing during the festive season, stay safe.
WILD WEATHER: Rainfall in the Mackay region has been welcomed after devastating fires damaged more than 900 hectares of cane in the area.