Rural

Farmers urged to plant sugarcane to cash in on demand

Sugarcane harvesting.
Sugarcane harvesting. Mike Knott

GYMPIE'S burgeoning sugar industry could be on the brink of a multi-million-dollar expansion, with the Maryborough Sugar Factory casting its eyes south and waving the cheque book to lure embattled dairy farmers and graziers into sugarcane.

MSF cane supply officer Chris Coutts-Smith said yesterday about 800ha of land at Goomboorian and Scotchy Pocket was under sugarcane cultivation, producing about 5% of the factory's supply.

MSF hopes to grow Gympie's contribution by 50% by expanding production in those areas, and starting it in the Mary Valley.

"Our business owners are keen to see the factory run at full capacity, meaning we plan to grow by another 25%," Mr Coutts-Smith said.

"As land around Maryborough becomes scarce, we expect that the area south to Gympie will benefit from much of this expansion.

"My own role with the company is to help foster expansion and encourage new growers into the industry.

"Many of our existing growers are expanding as a result of an improved price outlook and a better system of risk management through forward pricing.

"However we have a short age of available land close to Maryborough, so we are keen to talk with landowners further afield."

While sugarcane cannot be grown on steep slopes or on land subject to heavy frosts, Goomboorian's reliable rainfall provides the Maryborough factory with some of its lowest cost production.

"Sugarcane will grow in a variety of soil types," Mr Coutts-Smith said.

"The fertile flats of the Mary River produce some of our highest yields.

"While it's unlikely sugarcane will ever be the major crop in Gympie, we believe many properties currently used for grazing or dairies would be suitable.

"Our efficient transport system allows us to source cane from as far away as 100km without any extra freight cost to the grower.

"Of course, we can also negotiate freight rates from further afield."

Mr Coutts-Smith said the factory had received numerous inquiries from Gympie region dairy farmers hit hard by the milk price war.

"Many of these already grow fodder crops, so they have the skills, land and equipment to easily make the change to sugarcane," he said.

Sugar is a major player in the Queensland economy, accounting for about $1.8 billion or 12.5% of the state's primary industry gross value of production.

"We are now considered to be amongst the most competitive producers in the world, and are ideally placed to supply the growing demand for sugar in Asia," Mr Coutts-Smith said.

MSF owns four sugar mills in Queensland, making it Australia's third largest producer and second largest exporter.

Each year, the Maryborough factory crushes about 700,000 tonnes of sugarcane supplied from more than 100 growers. About 100,000 tonnes of raw sugar is produced for export out of Bundaberg port.

Sugar has been grown in the Fraser Coast region since the 1860s and the Maryborough factory has been in operation since 1895.

"Our local industry turns over $53 million with $32 million paid directly to growers, and we estimate it supports 500 families on the Fraser Coast."

Gympie Times

Topics:  maryborough sugar factory sugarcane sugar industry



Our six art gallery picks for a creative day out

YOU may not associate Brisbane with a burgeoning art scene, but you’d be mistaken.

Six hideaway bars to escape winter chill

The Gresham's charm will win you over before your first sip.

THESE are the perfect places to hang this winter.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Date nights under $50

Nothing is more romantic than a picnic with a cracking view.

NOT every date has to cost you a bomb.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Euthanised pony confirmed to have had Hendra

The AVA has said a case at Kilkivan where the owner of a sick horse falsified horse health declaration documentation, underscored the need for vaccinating horses against Hendra virus.

Report also reveals owner of sick horse at Kilkivan falsified papers

4 Ingredients author to talk at Gympie Library

SHORT CUTS: 4 Ingredients author Michelle McCosker will share her secrets at Gympie Library on June 15.

Kim McCosker helps make meal time easier

'Black dog' police deaths spark call for memorial

Retired Sunshine Coast police officer Ian Browne supports a push to have officers who take their own lives included on state and national memorials.

'We should honour them': Push for memorials gains momentum

Local Partners

Shot at the live shows slips through Sally's fingers

SUNSHINE Coast singer's dramatic elimination from The Voice nearly saw her form a duo with her battle round opponent.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor split after 17 years

They were married in May 2000 and have two children, who they said will remain their priority.

Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor have called it a day

Why The Voice hasn't produced a star

Boy George responds to Brittania Clifford-Pugh's heart-warming message.

It's the industry, not the show, says Boy George

These actors hated their movies and didn’t mind admitting it

Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in a scene from GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Every year, Hollywood blesses us with plenty of God awful movies.

Miranda Kerr and fiance hang up backyard tent for wedding

The decorators and caterers are arriving for the final preparations for the wedding of Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel. Pictures: Splash

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr are set to marry today

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

I appreciated Freedman's blunt honesty in the book

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Lost dough leaves sour taste after company collapse

Kathleen and John Mahoney from Sugar and Spice Bakery were stung after the collapse of Cantro Pty Ltd and are still owed money.

Supermarket operator collapse leaves sour taste for bakery

Open for inspection homes May 25-31

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!