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AU: Research to prepare Queensland banana growers for cyclones

Major research into cyclone-management strategies for Queensland banana farms will be released next week as north Queensland’s growers continue their recovery from Cyclone Yasi and prepare for the upcoming cyclone season.

The findings from the major study will be revealed on .Friday, November 9 at a seminar and field walk to be held from 1pm at the South Johnstone Research Station, near Innisfail. A summary of the findings will also be reported to the Cassowary Coast Banana Growers’ meeting at the El Arish Tavern, near Tully, on Thursday, November 8 at 7pm.

Two field trials were conducted in banana plantations to investigate the impact of different farmmanagement practices on cyclone-affected banana production. The study also looked at records kept by banana farms to determine the financial impact of the different management practices.

The study has been conducted by Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Senior Development Horticulturist Stewart Lindsay and agribusiness consultant Shane Comiskey. Funding was provided by DAFF’s Rural Resilience Industry Grants Program and the project was managed by the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC).

Mr Lindsay said: “Cyclone Larry in 2006 and Cyclone Yasi in 2011 caused huge destruction in Australia’s major banana production regions. This research has looked at the impacts of those cyclones and how to reduce them in the future. We have assessed a range of strategies for managing cyclone impacts including pre-cyclone options, such as removing the leaf canopy to reduce wind resistance, and post-cyclone strategies to stagger crops and avoid production gluts.”

He said some growers had already made preparations for the upcoming cyclone season by preparing “cyclone blocks” – sections of plantations where the growth of new banana suckers has been timed by “nurse suckering” to give the best results in the event of a cyclone.

Mr Comiskey said he had done a financial analysis of the various cyclone-production scenarios to determine which would produce the best result for growers.
“The analysis has come up with some thoughts on the factors that growers should consider when they’re faced with a cyclone event,” Mr Comiskey said.

“Following Cyclone Larry and Cyclone Yasi, there were a lot of growers who took no action in respect to cyclone management – they let the bananas come back under their own steam and there was a huge supply the following November and December, leading through to January, with prices well below the cost of production.

“We have looked at each of the strategies that growers could have put in place to flatten out that huge spike n supply and thereby keep prices at profitable levels.”

For more information:
Rhyll Cronin
Australian Banana Growers’ Council
Tel: +61 (0)7 3278 4786
Mob: +61(0)428 038 330

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