SUNRICE, the consumer brand and trading name of Ricegrowers Limited, has reported strong dry season performance across North Queensland’s Burdekin rice growing region, with 4200 tonnes of premium rice variety Doongara harvested in December.
The appetite among sugarcane growers to integrate rice as a complementary crop for sugarcane remains strong.
All contracts are filled for the wet season crop, which is currently in the ground and close to reaching the panicle initiation growth stage across the Burdekin, Tully, Ingham and Gordonvale.
SunRice general manager AGS, grower services and agronomic development, Tom Howard, said to complement the interest in rice as a favoured crop option across North Queensland, a new research and development program would soon get underway focused on breeding and selecting rice varieties specifically for tropical conditions.
“North Queensland has the ideal environment for growing rice as a rotational high value crop that complements the sugarcane farming system. It can assist growers to improve their cash flow by utilising fallow land and generating significant profits for their farm business, along with potentially improving soil condition and breaking disease cycles through crop rotation,” he said.
“We’ve had a good recent harvest and ongoing research and development projects are designed to improve on productivity.
“We are delighted to see that this research work will get a significant boost with $4 million committed by the Federal Government under the Rural R&D for Profit program, which will commence in the coming weeks to support the expansion of the North Queensland rice industry.”
Delivered in partnership with AgriFutures, the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and SunRice subsidiary Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd (RRAPL), the program will focus on research into rice varieties, farming systems, pest and disease management, agronomic practices, market return maximisation and post-harvest handling to develop a sustainable northern rice industry.
“North Queensland has strong synergies with SunRice’s strategy to develop alternative sources of domestic supply to target premium markets and help us continue to meet solid international demand for clean and green Australian rice. We are committed to building a sustainable rice industry in North Queensland to benefit local growers and their communities,” Mr Howard said.