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Pineapple growers relieved Ita didn't cause much damage

Kathleen Calderwood, Tuesday April 15, 2014 - 09:32 EST
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Ben Clifton, production manager for Valley Syndicate Farms, at Yeppoon, on the central Queensland coast says they made it through Tropical Cyclone without much impact on their pineapple crop. - ABC

Pineapple growers at Yeppoon, on the central Queensland coast, are relieved that Tropical Cyclone Ita failed to bring significant rain to the area.

It was the last thing local pineapple growers needed, after receiving over half a metre of rain only two weeks ago.

Ben Clifton, production manager for Valley Syndicate Farms, says although the cyclone cleared quickly on Monday, he could definiately feel the effects in the morning.

"Well. we certainly knew Ita was here at eight o'clock.

"There was a lot of breeze, most of the showery rain had finished overnight, but we have a 10-metre picking boom that hangs out off the side of our trailer and it was certainly copping a bit of workout as Ita passed.

"I haven't heard of any immediate damage. I think the rainfall's a bit less than expected this time around. Unfortunately we didn't fare so well a couple of weeks ago."

Recently, the farm sent a truck full of pineapple tops to be planted to Pace Farming at Rollingstone, north of Townsville.

However, owner Stephen Pace says planting will now be delayed until after Easter, because of the cyclone.

"We had a lot of rain fall in probably a 48-hour period, probably in excess of 350 millimetres.

"Our main damage has been from flooding, just a bit of wash here and there in some paddocks, and some roads pretty badly damaged.

"There were a few spots where floodwater started to come up into some of the blocks, which can be an issue especially on the fruit that's harvesting at the moment. We can get some rot diseases in there from the water.

"It's fairly minor, to be perfectly honest."

He says the damage they sustained is worth the security of water in the area following the rain.

The farm was just about to kick off planting, with the load of planting material from Yeppoon ready to go.

"We're just hitting our straps with our planting for this season and it's put the brakes on that, probably until after Easter.

"If we don't get any more rain by next week we should be right.

"The harvesting it hasn't affected much at all... we actually harvested fruit today."

Mr Pace says the swapping system between northern, central and southern pineapple growers makes their job a lot easier.

"We've got a bit of a system where growers further south from here, in Central and Southern Queensland, do a bit of an exchange with planting material with them, especially with the new hybrid varieties.

"It seems to be that each area has fresh planting material at a time when we don't need it ourselves to be planting it, so it suits the other growers because it is in their planting windows.

"So we freight it down there and then vice versa they freight it back up here. We just received a load from the boys down in central Queensland, so they're just sitting in bins here in the shed, just waiting next week to be planted.

"The sooner you get them in the ground the better, but they can last in bins up to two months and even longer at times, depending on what the weather's like.

"The beauty when they're all in bins like that, it doesn't take very long at all to plant them, because more than half the work is in picking them up.

"So when they're already picked up and in bins it's very very easy for us."


© ABC 2014

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