PICKING of this year’s 4.5-million-bale cotton crop is moving into the Queensland/NSW border region as harvest wraps up further north in Central Queensland (CQ) where yields have been above average.
“There might be a little bit left in some places like around Theodore and Moura in the Dawson area where they have had more weather interruption,” he said.
“So far from early ginning the results have been quite good. Very good yields from 10 to 14 bales/hectare.”
Mr Lee said further south on the Darling Downs, irrigated crops were close to being defoliated and picking was likely to get underway in earnest around the middle of April.
“It is not looking too bad. The crops that had enough water to get them through are looking good,” he said.
“The heat hasn’t been as bad as it was last year. Not the barrage or the extended periods we had. There has been quite a lot of heat around Goondiwindi and St George, but the Downs has been quite lucky.
“The crops have taken a bit more water than everyone anticipated. So, there are some people who have run out of water and people who took crops out of irrigation programs and concentrated on other fields so they got full irrigations. Any irrigated fields that picked up late rain are looking quite good.”
Mr Lee said some dryland crops on the Darling Downs had already been defoliated and picking should start on them by the end of this week or early next week.
“There is dryland around Cecil Plains and Dalby, also some around Chinchilla and Condamine, and even up in the South Burnett region,” he said.
“The dryland is variable. Some of the earlier crops that didn’t get the rainfall have finished up and are probably going to have low yields. Hopefully it will be better than last year, but there are some dryland crops that have struggled a bit.
“Any crops that were later or were able to hang on for longer got some of the late rainfall we had six weeks ago and has benefitted from that, so there might be some reasonable yields in some of those dryland crops.”
Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, said dryland crop yields would be below average again this year.
“A few of the later ones are better or where some growers won ‘storm lotto’ and got under a storm, but generally the dryland is below average,” he said.
“Early indications are for above average yields for irrigated cotton, but there is only very little off so far. We have seen Emerald and Theodore yields above average on the earlier crops that are off and we are hoping the above average trend for irrigated cotton goes right through the industry.”
Mr Kay said it would be another week or two before picking gets going in the northern NSW valleys, and a bit later again for crops in the south.
“But again, growers are quietly confident about their irrigated cotton. They are really looking for a month of good weather now to get the crop off,” he said.
Mr Kay said there had also been 350 hectares of cotton planted in the Ord River region of Western Australia this year that was coming onto flowering.