Picking underway for Australian cotton with above average crops expected: Cotton Australia

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March 13, 2024 Australia’s 1500 cotton growers, 90 per cent of them family farmers, are either starting to pick their 2024 crop or are planning to start in the coming weeks as they contemplate another above average season.

This season, close to 480,000 green hectares of cotton has been planted predominantly in New South Wales and Queensland, with the Northern Territory and Western Australia also growing cotton crops.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said the crop results are looking positive considering the predictions last September of an El Nino. “Our growers were expecting a long hot and dry summer forcing a crop revision below 4 million bales.

“The rains across our largest growing areas were very welcome and now we are expecting at least 4.5 million bales which will result in more than $3.6 billion for the Australian economy, much of which will flow back into rural and regional communities.”

Cotton Australia’s regional managers, based in each of the cotton growing regions, have reported that picking is underway in St George and Emerald.

In Emerald picking is underway on at least one farm although most cotton farmers are expected to grow on the crop with conditions expected to be favourable over the coming weeks to add extra yield to crops. Dryland crops are looking very good considering the rain arrived at the right time for those with seed in the ground.

On the Darling Downs growers started defoliating last Tuesday with picking expected early April. Dryland crops are going well and another 50ml of rain will finish the crop off nicely.

Picking is also underway at St George with those not picking yet expected to start over the coming days. Growers are reporting reduced hectares due to the rain coming too late. Dirranbandi hasn’t fared well due to the lack of available water while Muningdi is looking fantastic, particularly the dryland crops with rain coming at the right time.

In the Macintrye Valley they are expecting average yields with boll size down. Growers haven’t started picking yet and many are looking to the last water and defoliation with picking expected to start in early to mid-April.

In Northern New South Wales, it’s a mixed result with average to above average crops expected, depending on the location, and picking to start around Easter. Dryland crops would have benefited from earlier rain however the weather has been kinder to irrigators and the warm days and nights have helped finish the season well. The Gins are looking to start ginning cotton from mid to late April.

In the Macquarie Valley results have been a bit patchy but growers remain optimistic of a reasonable season with picking expected to begin in most regions in April. While some have reported very healthy crops, cloudy days resulted in lost fruit however summer storms provided excellent conditions for dryland crops resulting in great dryland results.

In Southern NSW, growers are planning their last irrigation and are looking towards a start to picking in late April with most of the picking expected to happen in the first week of May. The irrigated crop ranged from average to slightly above average.

At the other end of the country, Northern Territory growers say their crops are looking ok despite heavy and consistent rain which has hindered production. Growers have planted around 12,000 hectares, similar to last season, and growers are hoping for some sunshine to assist fruit development. Picking isn’t expected until mid to late June.

In Kununurra there’s a couple of weeks left in the planting window and given wet weather has kept growers off their paddocks they are in the middle of planting now. Some paddocks went in in the first week of February and they are progressing towards picking in August.

Mr Kay said the good season is cause to celebrate in every one of the 249 communities where cotton is being grown across the country. “It means more than $3.5 billion dollars will filter down through each area and that helps support jobs in regions that need them most.”

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