Cyclone-flattened bananas

By Marty McCarthy

Friday, 01/03/2013

The Burdekin region of north Queensland could become Australia’s newest banana growing powerhouse, after a nation-wide search for more growing areas.

After the industry’s key growing hub on the Cassowary Coast was ripped apart twice in five years by devastating cyclones, the industry has set about diversifying its planting areas to limit the impact of future disasters.

The banana industry and Horticulture Australia searched from Carnarvon in Western Australia, to the Northern Territory and as far south as Coffs Harbour in NSW.

But Mike Smith, principal scientist with Queensland’s Department of Agriculture, says the Ayr research station, south of Townsville, is perfect for the trial because of its climate, water availability and disease-free qualities.

“We’re looking for sites that are free of Panama disease,” he said.

“The [Ayr research] station hasn’t grown bananas for many many years, so we thought that might be a very good location in which to establish those varieties that we can source for project and industry needs.”