Sugar prospects are up after floods gave farmers a caning

Susanna Freymark

The highest recorded price offered for sugarcane anywhere in Australia was reported last month.

Sunshine Sugar chief executive Chris Connors said the sugar market had risen significantly.

“We have decided to take a more aggressive approach with our hedging program, targeting pricing 70% of our projected production. This is expected to deliver a cane price to growers of as much as $54 per tonne,” Mr Connors said.

NSW Cane Growers chair Ross Farlow said the record price would mean a lot to local growers.

“A record price of over $50 per tonne will be well received and have an uplifting impact on the spirit of our farming community,” Mr Farlow said

The forecast crop tonnage for this season is significantly down as a result of the catastrophic flooding in 2022.

To replace it, there was a large planting of soybeans late last year as a fallow crop on flood-damaged paddocks.

Richmond River Cane Growers president Geoff Pye said it would take three to four years for local growers to get back on their feet after the floods of February-March 2022.

“We’ve lost so much crop,” Mr Pye said.

“We’ll plant a lot of cane, we’re in two-year cycles.”

Flood-impacted growers won’t have their next decent cane crop until at least 2025.

“The worst damaged crops have been removed or left on the ground,” Mr Pye said.

“We have a lot of fallow land.”

Many farmers planted soybeans and it was a good cash crop this year.

Some growers reported offers of $800–$850 per tonne.

The most difficult fallout of the flood was having to replace or repair expensive machinery.

Farmers have lost machinery in the floods. Photo: Contributed

“People are starting to get back on their feet,” Mr Pye said.

The problem with the producer grants was they had to be spent by September 30 this year, he said.

There are growers at East Coraki that aren’t even back in their houses.

“It’s a joke.”

Sugarcane planting season usually gets underway from late August.

Mr Pye said hedging the price protected farmers, “Sugar prices could fall but we have a three-year control.”

“You don’t hedge the whole lot,” he said.

About 7o% was at the fixed price.

While sugar is in demand and hitting record prices, farmers are keen to plant and harvest more cane as the flood recovery continues.

After the floods there was a lot of debris in the canefields including a caravan. Photo: Contributed
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