The Australian Banana Growers Council (ABGC) has reported industry-wide crop losses of around 5% across North Queensland's banana plantations, as the first preliminary estimate after Cyclone Ita passed through Innisfail and Tully on Sunday morning.
In a release, ABGC chairman Doug Phillips said that while the average stood at approximately 5%, some farms had registered more serious crop losses.
He said there had been reports of minor losses of up to 10% cross the Tully growing region, and little damage further north at Innisfail and west of Cairns on the Atherton Tablelands.
Initial reports were of total losses to the 40-hectare Hope Vale plantation, north-west of Cooktown. Four Lakeland banana farms south west of Cooktown were initially reported to have losses of between 20-50% of banana trees carrying bunches. Hope Vale and Lakeland collectively produce about 5% of Australia's bananas.
"On an industry-wide basis, initial reports are that there have been relatively minor losses. However, there have been isolated cases reported of heavier losses," Phillips said.
"The ABGC will continue to work with growers to help them assess any damage and any assistance measures that may be required."
He said it was fortunate that the cyclone weakened from a Category 4 system after reaching land, downgrading to a Category 1 by the time it affected the Atherton Tablelands, Innisfail, Tully and Kennedy growing regions.
The north Queensland growing regions produce about 95% of Australia’s bananas and the Australian industry has an annual production value of AUD$500 million (US$469.9 million).
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