Poppies Growers Tasmania chief executive Keith Rice and grower Tom Lindsay with his crop near Bishopsbourne. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSONTasmania’s 850 poppy farmers have a nervous one-month wait before harvesting gets under way and are hoping adverse weather stays away until it is completed in March.
Nanjing Night Net

Poppy Growers Tasmania chief executive Keith Rice said after the disastrous loss of crops in mid-January this year when North and North-West grower’s crops were wiped out by torrential rain and galeforce winds, he was reluctant to say if it would be a lucrative year.

“There’s a nervous wait given that there’s an expectation of around $4000 per hectare but with the disastrous season at the start of 2011,” Mr Rice said.

He said some early harvesting may start in mid to late January around Evandale and White Hills and be in full swing across the state by February.

Mr Rice said before this year’s crop was destroyed it was looking very good to excellent, and farmers were hoping bad weather did not hit again in the weeks before this coming harvest.

“Farmers put in a large amount of effort each year,” he said.

“It’s not just a crop to them, there’s a lot of themselves in it too and they want to grow the best crop.

“There’s a large cost to growing poppies and personal commitment and they only want the best.”

Mr Rice said the state’s farmers grew about 24,000 hectares of poppies annually for three companies – Tasmanian Alkaloids, GlaxoSmithKline and TPI Enterprises.

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