Freight Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

North Queensland rainfall inundates cane railways

Queensland’s sugarcane growers’ association is unsure of the extent of damage so far caused by monsoon conditions in the state’s north, with rail infrastructure reportedly inundated by flooding.

Canegrowers on February 6 detailed the extent of the damage so far, saying growers are getting anxious about the financial impact the deluge will have on the 2019 harvest.

“Some areas of sugarcane have been standing in water for many days and we are worried about the effect such a long inundation will have on the cane plants,” the association’s chief executive, Dan Galligan said.

“Sugarcane doesn’t like to have its feet wet for too long or to be without sunlight for too long. In fact, it may not be until the harvest begins that reduced sugar content from stunted growth and side shoots can be measured.”

Galligan described the rainfall events as “staggering”.

The Herbert River region around Ingham has reported 2,000mm of rain since the start of December, and some farms in the Burdekin region have recorded more than 600mm in less than a week.

“Along with the town of Giru and its sugar mill, our members’ paddocks, major roads and the cane train lines have been inundated to a depth of up to three metres in some places,” Galligan said. “We are aware that some of our farming families have also had water through houses and sheds and critical irrigation infrastructure such as pumps have been destroyed.”

Canegrowers said its insurance representatives were working with policy holders to expedite claims.

The association also said it would be working with state and federal agencies to respond where necessary and to put in place recover plans as soon as possible.