Disease hot spot goes to ground



MARK Piper knows ploughing out 10 hectares of sugar cane is a sacrifice he has to make for the greater good of the Bundaberg sugar industry.

But knowing that Bundaberg Sugar and Bundaberg Canegrowers have stepped up to help out by providing partial compensation for his loss is making the decision easier.

The cane being destroyed is part of a "smut hot spot", and is heavily infested with the destructive sugar cane disease.

It is the only significant hot spot in the Bundaberg Sugar milling area, and a potential source of thousands of smut spores.

Mr Piper said it was a bit of a shock to discover his farm had smut, but said he was trying to get on with the business of growing cane.

"It's going to help reduce the risk to more susceptible varieties," Mr Piper said.

"It's one of those things, we just have to get on with things."

Mr Piper intends to grow melons and pumpkins on the ground before returning it to cane production.

Bundaberg Canegrowers chairman Alwyn Heidke said the BSES had identified the hot spots in a bid to remove the sources of large numbers of smut spores.

"Preventing further smut infestations can only be guaranteed by removing cane from the known infested hot spots," Mr Heidke said.

The sugar industry has been hopeful of receiving government assistance to combat smut, but Bundaberg stakeholders felt they could wait no longer.

Mr Piper was compensated $20,000.



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