Rains too Late for Cane Growers

“Too little, too late” said David Wayne Executive Director of CANEGROWERS, the national organisation representing South Africa’s 23 866 cane growers.  Whilst the recent widespread rains have been well received over most parts of cane growing regions in KZN and Mpumalanga, these will have little impact on the current season’s crop   with most mills in KZN scheduled to close in six-week’ time. Consistent follow up rain is required to determine what difference this will have on contributing towards next season’s crops and yields.  All cane growing regions have been affected with areas such as Empangeni reporting a 40% year-on-year crop reduction.

Whilst cane growers are continuing with planting and fertiliser operations for the next season’s crop, soil temperatures are low hindering growing conditions.  In addition, there are large areas where cane roots have died as a result of the dry conditions and, accompanied by 2 years of reduced yields, this has resulted in costly and significant replant programmes which would normally only occur over a 8 – 10 year cycle.

Considering the fact that many growers are in a stretched financial position as a result of the ongoing cost squeeze with increasing input costs and a protracted period of low returns to sugarcane production, the impact of the dry conditions on the capacity of growers to implement proper ratoon management is of particular concern.

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