Archive for the ‘Press Release’ Category

VARIETY UPDATE: Outcomes from the Herbert Variety Committee (RVC) meeting

Posted by Ellie McVeigh


The Herbert Variety Committee meeting was held on the 5th of April 2023. The outcomes from the meeting are as follows:

Governance of the RVC:

The Herbert RVC have established governance procedures in which the meetings are run and managed. Governance procedures that need to be followed:

SRA31- Distribution through HCPSL Approved Seed plots

During 2022, it was decided to hold off on the distribution of SRA31 based upon some observations of smut. Critical review of the situation indicated the unusual smut infection was likely due to the interaction between very high temperatures and herbicide application. During the 2023 Herbert RVC meeting it was decided to proceed with the distribution of the variety to growers from HCPSL Approved Seed plots.

Growers who are wishing to purchase SRA31 from the HCPSL Approved Seed plots are requested to contact the HCPSL office- 47761808, immediately to order planting material.

Rogue clone found in SRA28

HCPSL and SRA staff identified a rogue clone in some HCPSL Approved Seed plots during their routine inspections of the plots for diseases and variety correctness. QN05-1380 has been found to be mixed with SRA28 with some cane supplied to growers in the past 2 years.

QN05-1380 was discarded by the SRA plant breeding program because its poor yield performance.

Variety tracing activities have been undertaken by both HCPSL and SRA staff to identify how the mix up occurred, however there are no clear leads on how QN05-1380 became mixed with SRA28 in the first place.

The HCPSL Approved Seed plots of concern are as follows:

The impacted growers have been recently contacted. These growers have been asked to obtain new stocks of SRA28 from HCPSL, if they wish to continue growing the variety to ensure variety correctness.

Growers can be reassured that cane purchased from HCPSL Approved Seed plots is RSD free.

HCPSL is requesting all growers to be on the lookout for the rogue clone and report it to HCPSL immediately. Photographs on the next 2 pages will highlight the visual differences between SRA28 and QN05-1380. QN05-1380 has a similar stalk colour appearance to MQ239.

HCPSL and SRA apologise for any inconvenience caused. HCPSL will ensure that growers who wish to obtain new SRA28 planting material in 2023, will be able to do so.


Wilmar Data Consent Change to Opt In – Notice and Information Sheet

Posted by Ellie McVeigh



Dear Herbert canefarmers,

HCPSL is seeking access to grower farm data at allow our company to provide services to your business now and into the future. Below is a Wilmar information sheet, why data consent is being sought and the management of your data in relation to privacy and confidentiality.

Please take the time to read through the Wilmar document. Each grower will be required to actively Opt In to provide HCPSL data.

What are some of the activities that HCPSL uses grower data for?

The Opt In is voluntary and at any time you can Opt Out if you wish to do so.

HCPSL takes data management seriously, to ensure that your confidentiality and privacy is not compromised in anyway. HCPSL is required to manage your data appropriately under the Privacy Act (1998) and has its own systems in place to protect your data.

Please follow the directions provided on the Wilmar information sheet on how to actively Opt In to provide HCPSL and other industry providers your consent to access your farm data and maps.

If you are not sure how to actively Opt In via the Wilmar website, HCPSL administration staff will be able to assist you by coming into the HCPSL office between 7am-3pm Monday to Friday. Remember you will need to bring with you your username and password to the Wilmar website, so that the HCPSL staff can assist you navigate the website to allow you to actively Opt In.

If you have any further questions pertaining to HCPSL accessing your data or data protection, please contact:

Lawrence Di Bella

HCPSL Company Manager on:

Mobile- 0448084252

Office- 47761808


HCPSL Grower Board Election Results

Posted by Ellie McVeigh


The votes have been counted for the 2023 HCPSL Grower Board elections.

Four candidates contested the 2023 HCPSL Grower Board elections, to fill the 3 positions on the HCPSL Board.

The results of the election are as follows:

Gino Zatta-                  79 votes

Michael Pisano-          72 votes

Greg Erkkila-               66 votes

Anthony Girgenti-       55 votes

Number of informal votes- 3

Gino Zatta, Michael Pisano and Greg Erkkila are the 3 growers elected to the HCPSL Board.

HCPSL would like to thank all growers who nominated for the election.

These three growers will be joined on the Board with the 3 Mill appointed Board members:

A special thanks to our outgoing Board members: Nicole Butler (Miller Board member) and Michael Waring (Grower Board member) (who did not seek re-election) for their dedication and years of service to the company.

The vote count was supervised by Peter Timms (HCPSL Commercial Services Manager) as the Returning Officer and independent observers / vote counters Greg Shannon (Tully Sugar Productivity Manager) and Peter Sutherland (Tully Cane Productivity Services Manager).

The new Board will be installed on the 28th of March 2023.

Signed: Peter Timms, HCPSL Commercial Services Manager.

Senator Hon. James Mc Grath visits HCPSL

Posted by Ellie McVeigh


HCPSL received a visit by Queensland Senator the Hon. James McGrath last Thursday (2nd of March) to gain a better understanding of the sugarcane industry and activities undertaken by HCPSL.

The Hon. Senator James McGrath was elected to the Senate for Queensland in 2013, re-elected in 2016 and 2022. The Senator is currently the Deputy Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

The Senator met with the HCPSL Company Manager- Lawrence Di Bella and HCPSL Administration Manager- Sue Beccaris to discuss pest and disease issues experienced by the local industry and other company related matters.

HCPSL would like to thank the Senator for taking the time to visit HCPSL in his very busy schedule.

Photo above (left to right): Lawrence Di Bella, Hon. Senator James McGrath and Sue Beccaris.

How to download your Farm Map from the Wilmar Grower Web

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Download or view the file below to find simple instructions on downloading your Farm Map from the Wilmar Grower Web.

It’s time to test seed cane for planting again

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Press release: Monday 30 January 2023

HCPSL will start seed cane inspections for growers tomorrow (Tuesday 31 January) for all Herbert growers. This year things will be done a little differently. HCPSL will be using three different methods of testing this season.

SRA’s Molecular Plant Pathologist Dr Chuong Ngo and Translational Research Pathologist Dr Rob Magarey visited HCPSL on 24 January to train HCPSL staff on the new Ratoon Stunting Disease (RSD) testing method called leaf sheaf biopsies (LSB).

A core (otherwise called a leaf punch) is taken from the leaf sheath of the cane plant, mixed with distilled water, and then sent off to the laboratory for analysis. The RSD bacteria weeps from the leaf punch into the distilled water over a few hours and is then analysed.

Photo above – Dr Chuong Ngo, Molecular Plant Pathologist, presents  at the HCPSL training day.

This sampling method is just as accurate as the expressed xylem sap method and both use the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) test that was made available to growers two years ago by HCPSL. However, the LSB method is more efficient in the field for collection of samples. It can also be done earlier in the year that phase contrast microscopy (PCM) method. The PCM (microscope) method will still be made available to growers, but this method can be less accurate when detecting RSD than LSB and qPCR.

HCPSL staff will only be testing cane that will be used for planting in 2023. Growers will only be permitted to sample one block/variety for every 20 ha farmed. This ruling has been put in place to allow HCPSL staff to get across all farms. There will be no charge for Herbert growers using the seed inspection service.

Growers who wish to undertake a whole of farm RSD survey will be invoiced accordingly. This is not a core HCPSL service. Full farm RSD surveys will only be undertaken mid-year after all seed inspections are completed for cane to be planted this season. 

The other change this year is that growers will need to come into the HCPSL office with their most recent farm maps, downloaded from the Wilmar website, to book a seed cane inspection with HCPSL staff. Due to changes at Wilmar concerning data management and security, HCPSL currently does not have copies of grower farm maps and data.

HCPSL is working with Wilmar to gain access to farm data, but new computer systems will need to be upgraded before growers can go online through the Wilmar website to grant permission to HCPSL to gain data access. Both HCPSL and Wilmar apologise for the inconvenience caused and are working together to resolve this matter.

Photo above (Left) – HCPSL field staff expressing sap for a xylem sample.
Photo above (Right) – A leaf punch collected for a LSB sample.

The turnaround time from collection to receiving your results using the LSB and qPCR methods is about two weeks, so growers will need to plan which varieties/blocks they want tested. RSD samples will be processed by both the SRA and Metagen labs located in Brisbane and Gatton respectively.

HCPSL and SRA data have shown that growers who utilise Approved and disease-free planting material will grow on average 11 tonnes cane per hectare (tch) more  than growers who don’t.

Don’t take it for granted that the cane you are planting this year is disease free, get it tested!

Growers are urged to contact the HCPSL office ASAP to organise a seed cane inspection by HCPSL field staff.

To download a copy of the Press Release, view the document below.


Posted by Ellie McVeigh
Photo above: Rat baiting of sugarcane with a drone in the Herbert 2022.

HCPSL was notified by CANEGROWERS on the 1st of December 2022 that the Permit to Allow minor use of a registered Agvet Chemical Product for the control of Australian Native Ground rats in lodged sugarcane crops has been granted (permit number PER92695) on the 30/11/2022. The permit is valid for the period 30 November 2022- 30 November 2027. It allows aerial application of RATOFF sachets into lodged cane from a helicopter or drone.

There are now 2 permits in place for rat management that have been approved in the last 2 months:

Conditions under the APVMA permit:

The HCPSL Company Manager would like to thank Mick Quirk (CANEGROWERS) who coordinated the permit submission documentation and meeting with key governmental staff concerning this matter.

For more information concerning the permit, please contact: Lawrence Di Bella- HCPSL Company Manager on 0448084252.

Photo above: Helicopter rat baiting in the Herbert region 2022.

Supporting agencies:

Download a copy of the Press Release here:


Posted by Ellie McVeigh

In the past week you may have noticed dead leaves in your young SRA36 cane crops. Dr. Rob Magarey (SRA Pathologist), HCPSL Company Manager- Lawrence Di Bella, SRA plant breeding team members Dr. Fengduo Hu, Juan Briceno and Linda Di Maggio spent Wednesday the 16th of November in the field inspecting blocks of SRA36 across the district.

On inspecting impacted fields, it was noted a physical damage of the top uncurled top leaves of SRA36 was present; often in the 3rd uncurled leaf. The damage consisted of leaf senescence and yellowing of the tissue of the leaf blade, occurring as a stripe in one or both sides of the midrib, and other times the whole leaf blade. No callus or necrotic line separating live tissue from dead tissue was observed, ruling out a reaction of the plant to a pathogen or parasite. New leaves continue to grow unaffected in the inspected canes; the new leaves and the whole plant did not show any signs of further damage.

Above: Note the yellow senescence on the leaf in a cane stool.
Above: Note the 3rd unfolded leaf that has yellow senescence.

The senescence of the leaves in the SRA36, was due a climatic event that occurred 3 weeks earlier. At that time a number of high dew mornings and fog, followed by high daily temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius in field occurred, with an actively growing crop making it an ideal situation for crop damage. In this particular situation, the soft leaf tissue in the growing point had water present (due to the fog) and the high temperatures experienced during the day caused the plant tissue cells to become damaged. As the plant continued to grow these damaged leaves elongate and become fully unfolded exposing the damaged leaves.

It is anticipated that no yield loss will occur, and the variety will continue to grow to its full potential.

If you see anything usual in the field at any time, please contact HCPSL on 47761808.


Posted by Ellie McVeigh

HCPSL has been granted a Damage Mitigation Permit (permit number WA0047339) on the 11/11/2022, for the culling of rats in Herbert sugarcane fields from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES).

Under the permit Herbert River canefarmers will be permitted to cull the Grassland melomys (Melomys burtoni) and Cane rat (Rattus sordidus) found in sugarcane fields. The registered rat baits available to the industry are Ratoff® and Racumin®.

Conditions under the permit:

The HCPSL Company Manager would like to thank Rod Nielson (HCPSL staffer) and Mick Quirk (CANEGROWERS Brisbane) who have assisted with the permit submission documentation and meeting with key DES staff.

For more information concerning the permit, please contact Lawrence Di Bella- HCPSL Company Manager on 0448084252

HCPSL Board members and Company Manager head south to investigate new technologies.

Posted by Ellie McVeigh

Last week HCPSL Board members Gino Zatta and Greg Erkilla and HCPSL Company Manager Lawrence Di Bella visited research facilities, machinery manufacturers and other industries to investigate new technologies and equipment that could be used by HCPSL and the Herbert cane industry.

HCPSL Board members and staff at a grain’s property outside of Dalby.
Ellie McVeigh in front of cotton bales at the farm in which James Formosa is employed.

The group ventured in cotton and grain country visiting HCPSL Extension Officer- Ellie McVeigh, who now resides near Dalby with her partner James Formosa. Ellie continues to work for HCPSL on Project CaNE and Cultivate Farms projects, delivering nutrient management plans for Herbert growers and supporting other activities in which the company is undertaking.

The group got to view firsthand Swarm Farm’s robotic driverless spray units which operate on the cotton farm in which James is employed. The group also got to review other grain and cotton technologies and operations during the visit.            

Photo above (left to right): Ellie McVeigh, James Formosa, Greg Erkilla and Gino Zatta in front of a Swarm Farm spray unit, near Dalby.

On the way to Dalby and Toowoomba the group visited the Metagen labs and process facilities in Gatton. At this site the HCPSL team met with Dr Anthony Young (University of Queensland lecturer and scientist) and Shane Fitzgerald (owner/ Director of Metagen) and his team to review the LSB RSD testing lab and general company operations.

Photo above (left to right): Shane Fitzgerald, Lawrence Di Bella, Greg Erkilla, Dr. Anthony Young, Gino Zatta and Dr. Neil Wilson at Metagen, Gatton.

The HCPSL team also visited Gessner in Toowoomba to investigate small billet planters that could possibly be used to plant HCPSL approved seed plots into the future. At this stage HCPSL is still considering what machinery options it may use to plant its Approved Seed plots into the future given labour shortages and the requirement to plant hot water treated cane.

Gino Zatta and Lawrence Di Bella in front of a large ripper used by the Western Australia grains industry at the Gessner factory in Toowoomba.
Tissue culture cane grown at SRA Indooroopilly ready for shipment to regional propagation sites.

When back in Brisbane, the HCPSL team visit Drs. Clair Bolton and Chuong Ngo at SRA Indooroopilly to view firsthand the SRA RSD and tissue culture labs. The tissue culture propagation process was a real eye opener for both Greg and Gino. From one sugarcane meristem many tissue culture plants can be generated for industry use. HCPSL obtains annually tissue culture plants from SRA for Herbert growers to propagate on their own farms.

The final visit for the team was to meet with Dr. Weijin Wang (Queensland government soil scientist) at Queensland government’s Ecoscience Precinct in Brisbane. The team discussed opportunities to work together in the future and visit the largest soils and water laboratory in the southern hemisphere. HCPSL has had a long working relationship with Dr. Weijin Wang, working jointly on projects to better understand nitrogen loss pathways, cover crops and enhanced efficiency fertilisers. Dr Wang’s team does the research, with HCPSL Extension Agronomy staff taking the research and making practical outcomes on the ground for local farmers.

The 3-day trip was informative, thought provoking and will greatly assist HCPSL drive its operations and the local industry forward into the future.