EMERALD farmers are seeing what could be record yields coming off their cotton crop this season.
According to Central Highlands regional manager of Cotton Australia, Renée Anderson, farmers are seeing some of the highest averages that Emerald has ever experienced.
“Ginning has only just commenced, so nobody knows the actual yield grown but, going off module weights and counts, many fields have averaged 11-13b/ha with 12-13b/ha being common,” she said.
“The record yields are from the earlier planted cotton in August and very early September.
“This cotton made the most of good conditions during November and, despite a bit of rainfall and cloud, has still performed well because temperatures were mild at the time.
“With dry and hot conditions in January, these crops commenced defoliation during early January and picking got under way January 18.”
Ms Anderson said the results this season were very consistent with the results from early planted crops last year.
“The difference this season is that growers went in with more experience with early planting and were able to manage their fields better to make the most of the opportunity,” she said.
According to Ms Anderson, rain in October helped set up the early crops well with good canopy expansion.
“This set up the crop to hold a good number of bolls throughout November and December despite intermittent cloud, compared with previous seasons where November was sunny,” she said.
Ms Anderson said the most exciting thing for the Emerald cotton industry over the last two years was that growers were now producing yields that were on par with their southern counterparts.
“Lower yields over the last decade have created a stigma around CQ as not being an ideal place to grow cotton,” she said. “That is now changing fast.”
Emerald has been subject to wild fluctuations in both yield and quality over the last decade, she said.
“Whilst untimely weather is still a part of the CQ environment, the impact of these weather events will be reduced with the broader planting window which is good for growers, associated agribusiness and the ginners…,” she said.