Planting rain just the ticket for cotton growers

Continued rain across southern Queensland has given cotton growers a boost as they prepare to plant. 

Rain is putting a smile of the faces of farmers throughout the district. As long as it doesn't hold up harvest for too long. File pic.

Rain is putting a smile of the faces of farmers throughout the district. As long as it doesn't hold up harvest for too long. File pic.

While the rain won't boost water storages, it will help soil moisture levels prior to planting, which is expected to start this week.

The widespread rain has lifted spirits around St George as growers stare down the barrel of what is shaping up as one of their smallest plantings in years.

St George Cotton Growers Association president, Scott Armstrong, said the rain would assist growers’ pre-irrigation, but with such limited amounts of water in storage it wouldn’t change the seasonal outlook.

“It's certainly been very dry in the catchment area of the river that supplies our irrigation,” he said. 

Mr Armstrong said there had been a lot of pre-watering going on in the area and he expected growers to start planting in the first week of October. 

“The price is good so we'd all love to grow as much as we can, but we can only do what we can with the water that's available to us, and at the moment that's fairly limited,” he said. 

“If more water becomes available we will certainly take advantage of that.”

Cotton Growers Services Goondiwindi representative, Robert Austen, said growers in the border rivers area would wait until mid-October to plant, but many had also started to pre-irrigate. 

Mr Austen said while it was hard to say how much water was available in the area, many growers’ reserves should be fairly full.

“We had a flood event back in April where everyone managed to pump and because it was sort of the end of the cotton season we haven't really had much use for it,” he said.

“So unless they've used it for their winter crop because they've had no rain through winter they should be looking pretty good for this coming cotton season.”

Prior to this week’s rain, Mr Austen said it was likely going to take a fair bit of water to get the moisture profile up, but the good soaking this week will be timely for many. 

As for the variety of cotton being planted across southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, the choice has been very consistent.

Mr Austen said Bollgard III 746 and 748 were the varieties of choice in the Goondiwindi area because it’s closest to what growers know.

“They've got the Bollgard gene, they're roundup ready, they've also got good fibre quality and length for turnout,” he said.  Mr Armstrong said growers in the St George area have also chosen the same varieties. “They are dominating the variety of choice now with all the latest technologies that's in those varieties,” he said.