Becoming a Grower

Letter from our CEO

Hi, my name is Mike Barry and I am the CEO of MSF Sugar Queensland Mills. MSF Sugar is the third largest sugar miller in Australia and operates four sugar mills in Queensland. In 2012 we were acquired by Mitr Phol, the world's fifth largest sugar manufacturer.

We lead the way in the Australian sugar industry with involvement in all facets of the sugar business including growing, harvesting, cane transport, raw sugar manufacture, bulk sugar terminals and marketing.

Worldwide there is a resurgence of interest in the sugar industry and there has never been a better time to consider growing sugarcane than right now.

Sugarcane has been crushed in Queensland by MSF Sugar for over 90 years, and we are currently producing over 200,000 tonnes of raw sugar for export annually. Our mills are also a major supplier of bio-energy, feeding into the state electricity grid.

We are actively working with new and existing growers to develop and expand the cane industry in the Queensland area.

My experienced team can offer you expert advice on growing sugarcane. We can help you get started with advice on farm suitability, sugar cane economics, cane varieties, land preparation, planting, growing and harvesting.

Why not join us in a vibrant industry with a solid future?


Cane Farming Basics

Sugarcane is grown on a range of soils in the region, from sloping red volcanics to sands to heavy clays to rich alluvials.   Growers choose different cane varieties for different soil types and situations. 


Planting is the most costly part of the growing cycle.  However, cane re-grows (ratoons) again after harvest for up to 4 years.  Usually, about 20% of a farm is planted each year.  Planting operations include:

  • Land preparation
  • Harvesting plants
  • Planting (including some fertilizer)
  • Fertilizer side-dress
  • Weed control
  • Cultivation to profile the cane row (filling-in)

Ratoons management is much less intensive.  Typically, the only operations required from year to year are:

  • Fertilizer application
  • Spraying for weed control
  • Headland management

Harvesting is normally performed by contractors who service a number of farms.  In a harvesting season, depending on the size of your farm, you can expect the harvester to visit 3 to 5 times.  This means you will have some cane cut early, some mid-season and some later in the season.   


Frequently Asked Questions

What farming equipment do I need?

Most growers have a tractor with a ripper and a set of offsets, a fertilizer box and a spray rig as a minimum.  Larger growers have specialist equipment such as planters.

Can I hire contractors to perform any farming functions?

Pretty well any cane farming function can be performed by a contractor, including land preparation, planting, spraying, fertilizing and harvesting.

What are the most critical factors for successful cane farming in this region?

Good drainage is essential, as is proper plant nutrition.  Timeliness of farm operations is also essential, particularly weed control.

Is there agronomic advice available?

Yes.  Innisfail Babinda Cane Productivity Services and BSES Limited provide agronomic advice, including on variety suitability.

Can anybody become a cane grower?

Yes, provided your farm is suited to growing and supplying cane and economical transport is available.

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