by Michael Madigan
SUGAR has suffered a set back as the price fails to live up to 2016's expectations but Queensland growers are still busily taking advantage of a dry winter to prepare for August planting.
Queensland Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said the sugar price which was comfortably above US20¢ had wound back in recent months, hovering between 13 and 14¢ after traders realised there would be a global surplus this year rather than the expected deficit.
"But the sugar price has always been volatile,'' Mr Schembri said.
"The good news is that we have had a pretty good winter and there are really two windows for planting in sugar - earlier in the year around May/June and the other in the spring,'' he said.
Cyclone Debbie which swept through sugar cane regions including Mackay and Proserpine earlier in the year had reduced the crop by about 10 to 15¢.
But growers like Kelvin Rayner, captured here in the red soils near Childers on his New Holland tractor preparing a paddock, are finding good conditions for the planting which should get into full swing in August
Sugar shot well beyond 20¢ a pound last year - the sweet spot where growers can make good returns even in an industry with high input costs.
Mr Rayner said he had plenty of faith in an industry which has been the economic life blood of districts like Childers and Bundaberg for generations.
"No use complaining, just keep working,'' he said.