Smut search delays start of Isis crushing



SUGAR cane smut has forced the Isis Central Mill to delay the start of the crushing while work is under way to develop quarantine practices for harvesting equipment and to identify potential infection sites.

The crush was due to start on Monday, but will be put back a week until June 26.

Meanwhile, more smut-affected cane has been found in another area of the Russo property and searches began yesterday of areas within the Russo's farms planted with cane from the smut "hotspot''.

About 150 growers, representatives from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F), BSES, Canegrowers and the Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries Tim Mulherin met yesterday in Childers to discuss what would be done next.

Key concerns were quarantine for machinery and other crops grown within the Russo property, and compensation for the cane that is expected to be destroyed.

Farm owner and Isis Canegrowers chairman Joe Russo said the total amount of his property under quarantine was now about 170ha, while two blocks of about 4ha were believed to have the disease.

"The feeling (at the meeting) was of shock, but understanding that we have now got to move forward,'' Mr Russo said.

Isis Central Sugar Mill general manager Mark Hochen said they had agreed to put back the crush because of the potential to spread disease.

The extra week is to allow the BSES and DPI to identify potential smut affected areas and plan harvesting to minimise risk of further spreading.



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