Circles touch down in Tweed Valley
NUMEROUS "crop circles" in the sugar cane fields of Condong have set tongues wagging in recent days, but there's no need to be alarmed.
The extraterrestrial-like trails are actually the sign of a bumper crop from Tweed's sugar cane industry, rather than a close encounter of the third kind.
Farmer David Cowderoy revealed that a combination of wind and rain, pushing against a dense growth of cane, or "high tonnage", was the cause of the multiple flattened circles in his paddocks visible from Cane Rd.
"Anything over 40 tonnes to the acre is likely to get blown over," Mr Cowderoy said.
"The last few years we haven't had the same damage, because this year the crops are big.
"In March, the outlook was poor, but since, heat and moisture have produced a high tonnage."
Around 80% of the sugar cane this season is expected to "blow over" with some varieties more susceptible than others.
Up to 10 varieties are planted to resist disease; type 235 on Cane Rd falls over easily, while type 211, which runs parallel with the river, is more erect.
"I'm not sure of the science of it, but normally a couple of stools will go over, the wind gets in, and blows around," Mr Cowdrey said.
Banora Point man John Duyker saw "flattened circles" in the fields "greater than the size of a house block", while driving to Murwillumbah.
"I wondered what was going on, because it was as though something had pressed it down. It amazed me," Mr Duyker said.
Weatherzone Meterologist Ben McBurnie said residents might also see mini-twisters of dirt between the cane rows.
"Microscale 'dust devils', or 'willy-willies', appear when the dense sugar cane bounces wind into different directions, producing twisting columns of air which pick up dirt."
But that might not explain another recent, mysterious crop circle.
According to Condong Mill supply superintendent Johan Lambrechts, farmers reported a circle which appeared one day, increased in radius the next, and then, disappeared.
The truth is out there, but for now the priority for the mill will be a high tonnage before the end of harvest in November.
"The last three years have been down at around 300,000 tonnes, and we're now at 425,000 tonnes. Our aim is 550,000," said Sunshine Sugar CEO Chris Connors.
The sugar will go to NSW Sugar Milling Cooperative - Australia's only remaining domestically owned refinery.
YOUR GUIDE TO CROP CIRCLES
FROM opium-consuming wallabies, to US Defence Force weather control technology, many theories have attempted to explain flattened wheat and cane crops.
The man who coined the term "crop circles," Colin Andrews told the Tweed Daily News that Australian recordings began in the 1950s, in Dorrigo in the Northern Tablelands and Bungawalbin, close to Evans Head.
"I flew to Australia in the 1980s to discuss my research into these on the Ray Martin Show.
"I then drove into remote farmland in the Mallee region, where a farmer found 11 in his wheat and just after I flew back, a more complex array showed up, a few miles away."
Mr Andrews believes crop circles are caused by electromagnetic energy fields, UFOs the US HAARP weather modification system, and has advised British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth as such.
Our officials have other theories.
In 2009, the Tasmanian Attorney General blamed wallabies for creating crop circles in opium fields, after the animals consumed opiate-laden poppies and ran around in circles.