As the majority of the cotton in the local area has been picked, growers are looking back on a season which presented many challenges.
Most cotton was planted relatively late due to a late 2016 chickpea harvest, which delayed preparation. Some cotton was even planted in December, which was possible for the first time due to the new Bollgard 3 biotechnology.
From the moment the cotton was planted, growers had constant “plant stresses”. From a high number of Mirids and Rutherglen bugs to an extremely hot January; the growers got no reprieve. Both insects and high temperatures for a prolonged period can cause a cotton plant to suffer and produce less fruit, this year saw us getting a double whammy.
Where every day in January boasted maximum temperatures above 35 degrees, growers around Talwood recorded 45+ degrees regularly and even a 49 degree day! Bonshaw growers, typically in a cooler area, still recorded 12 days over 40 degrees. time. The heat forced most growers to increase irrigations, west of Goondiwindi I even saw some fields receiving16 irrigations,almost double the normal number.
The heat also caused more Silver Leaf Whitefly. Another pest which is quickly becoming a major issue for cotton growers, is Solenopsis Mealybug. Whilst it was previously only seen in Central Queensland and on the Darling Downs, it has been reported in the Macintyre Valley for the first time which will require careful management from growers going forward. Most growers were lucky to have enough water to help the cotton along through these issues however it all affected yields. While we are still waiting for a lot of ginning results, average yields in the area are around 11 bales per hectare, which is down from last year. Some later planted crops managed 13 bales. Dryland cotton was a mixed bag, depending on the rainfall we averaged anywhere from 0.4 to 4 bales per hectare.
The price of cotton however has remained good and relatively stable, which helps compensate growers for the lower yields. Most dams are also full again going into this next season, due to the run in the river we had back in April, which is giving the local growers a reason for cautious optimism. To finish this season, the Macintyre Valley Cotton Field Day Committee and the Cotton Growers Association are hosting its annual cotton awards dinner on July 21. The awards night is always a great event, it gives us the chance to reflect on the past season, enjoy ourselves a little and it gives recognition to those who have achieved great things. For more information see the official invitation below, or check out the Committee’s Facebook page.