THE 2010 poppy season is looking quite reasonable, says Tasmanian Poppy Growers Association chief executive Keith Rice.
Mr Rice said that Tasmania's three manufacturers - Tasmanian Alkaloids, GlaxoSmithKline and relative new-comer TPI Enterprises - had contracted about 25,000 hectares this year, about 3000 hectares more than ever before and 4000 hectares more than last year.
Depending on quality and quantity, Mr Rice said that harvest would probably be worth $85-$100 million to the Tasmanian economy after a fall in the poppy price this year.
But Mr Rice warned against an expectation of ever-increasing poppy plantings.
"Given the challenges of the past three years, all three companies probably weren't carrying much, if any, stock, so this year will be a year to fill orders and rebuild some reserves," he said.
"Depending on this season's harvest, I think we'd be very lucky if we plant as much as 25,000 hectares next year.
"But after the seasons of the past three or four years, this season's been really good.
"There were one or two hold-ups at the beginning of the season in some areas, but they were not significant and, really, it was just getting back to the traditional Tasmanian winter where we expect to lose two or three days because you can't get machinery onto paddocks.
"The rains coming through spring and into early summer have been just superb - some areas got a bit damp over the first two weeks of December, but we had a month of water for a week through the Nile a couple of years ago and the crops still performed.
"Across the board, the crops are looking good and the growers are feeling confident of a reasonable season - we all understand that there's a long way to go yet.
"The harvest probably won't move into full swing until about mid-January and will continue until early March.
"There's always that gap when you're just waiting and you get a bit nervous about things - it wouldn't be a drama if we got no more rain until after harvesting and even if it rains, it will only be bad if we keep getting cloudy days and daily storms, especially after Christmas."
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