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TAS Country : March 24th 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011 Tasmanian Country 3 News TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania 2048615-08 After harvest clean up. Avoid future crop contamination by allowing poppy seed to germinate on the ground surface before deep ploughing or ripping. Your Field Officer can advise. Honey, it's just been a B' of a year B-GRADE YEAR: R Stephens product manager Ewan Stephens overseas packing at Mole Creek. PICTURE: ROSS MARSDEN KAROLIN MacGREGOR TASMANIAN honey producers have endured one of the most difficult seasons for decades after a wet and cool summer. The Stephens family from R Stephens Honey at Mole Creek run the state's biggest honey business and say this season has been one of the most difficult they remember. Shirley Stephens said a lack of warm dry weather and a poor leatherwood flowering on the West Coast cut this year's honey production by about 60 per cent. The family has about 2400 hives. Each year it produces Golden Bee honey from clover and blackberry across the north early in the summer before the hives are moved to the West Coast to coincide with the leatherwood flowering. ''Normally one of the crops will pick you up so if the Golden Bee is down the leatherwood will OK, and it works the other way around as well, but this year we haven't had the right weather for either of them,'' Mrs Stephens said. ''It's certainly the worst leatherwood season I can remember.'' Mrs Stephens's son Ewan said: ''It has been pretty wet and cool down there [on the West Coast] so the bees haven't been working and it's been a very poor flowering,'' he said. Mrs Stephens said luckily the family still had a significant amount of honey stored from last year. ''I think we will have enough to just scrape through with our existing customers, but we won't be taking on any more,'' she said. ''We've had a lot of inquiries about honey, but we'll look after our regular customers.'' About 10 per cent of the Stephens's honey is exported to overseas markets including Singapore and the US. Sixty per cent is sold on the mainland and 30 per cent is sold in Tasmania. Mrs Stephens said they would not compromise on the quality of their honey, even in difficult years and that is what keeps the customers coming back. ''We don't fiddle with it, there's no mixing or anything added to it,'' she said. ''It's the quality that sells it and people are very brand conscious.'' At present the family has about 1500 hives based around the Mole Creek to take advantage of the rare flowering of messmate gums. Mrs Stephens said the business's founder, the late Robert Stephens, used to produce a very flavoursome honey he labelled Wildflower Honey from the trees. However in recent decades, the Messmate flowering has become very spasmodic. The family is hoping their bees will be able to use the gum flowers this year to produce enough honey to feed the hives through the winter. More rain stunts growth KAROLIN MacGREGOR 'It has been fairly challenging and I think people will be talking about this one for generations.' Andrew Craigie THE difficulties for Tasmania's cropping far- mers continued this week when the state was lashed by heavy rain and winds across many growing areas. Almost every crop has been affected by record wet conditions, floods and a lack of sunlight over the past three months. A large low-pressure system moved over the state during the middle of week, bringing widespread rainfall. The wet conditions have already caused major delays in harvesting for poppy and cereal growers, and vegetable producers are also being affected. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Associ- ation vegetable council chairman Andrew Craigie said it had been a season that would go down in the record books. ''It has been fairly challenging and I think people will be talking about this one for generations,'' he said. ''It doesn't matter what you grow, nearly everything has been affected in some way or another.'' Mr Craigie said it was difficult to tell just how much impact the wet conditions would have on crops such as potatoes, with a large part of the crop still in the ground. ''We'll still be assessing the real cost of it for quite a while yet,'' he said. ''Until the crops are out of the ground, it's difficult to tell.'' Mr Craigie said this week's weather event did not deliver quite as much rain in some areas as was forecast, but it would still cause problems for growers. ''It will slow things down because now we'll have to wait until it dries out again,'' he said. ''For people with low-lying paddocks that in a normal year they could safely get out before it gets wet, this certainly won't help.'' Mr Craigie said the difficult season com- bined with low commodity prices was a hard hit for many growers. ''I think a lot of people will be assessing where they're at and ultimately the financial pressure for some might be too much, but I hope it's not,'' he said. Mr Craigie said Simplot's decision to lift potato prices this year by $20 a tonne after negotiations with the TFGA was welcomed by growers. However, he said the challenging season could mean many growers would only just cover their costs, and some would lose money. ''The margins on most of the crops are so fine now that when something like this happens, there's just no room to move,'' Mr Craigie said. ''Farmers are some of the biggest risk-takers in business, because every time we put a crop in the ground there's some risk of things going wrong. All we can hope now is that next season is better.'' Records from the Weather Bureau show the state's North-East received the biggest drench- ing, with about 213mm falling at Pyengana and 144mm at Gray. In the North-West things were also wet, with falls of 57mm at Cape Grim and 67mm at Sheffield. 2027271-110325 Farm Forum Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff MP, will be holding a farm forum in Scottsdale on Tuesday 31st March. If you wish to attend please call theTasmanian Liberals on 6233 3286 or email email@example.com Authorised by J. Hawkes, Level 2/24 Murray St, Hobart Advertisement es and Water,
March 17th 2011
March 31st 2011