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Disaster drives big price surge

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CYCLONE Larry has destroyed up to 95 per cent of the country's $350 million banana crop after tearing through the key growing regions of the Tully Valley and Innisfail.

Even before making landfall in north Queensland yesterday morning, Larry's impact was being felt in Sydney's main fruit market at Flemington, where the price of bananas doubled.

"You couldn't pinpoint a more precise position for a cyclone to hit Australia's banana production," said the chief executive of the Australian Banana Growers Council, Tony Heidrich. "It's pretty much a total wipe-out."

Up to 500 growers have been affected across the region, and it is estimated it could take nine months for production to resume.

"I don't think there's much left standing," said Pat Arcella, who owns two farms in the area and a wholesale business in Sydney.

After prices doubled overnight, Mr Arcella said it was likely they would hover at about $6 a kilogram for some time.

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