Cotton crop up but yield impacted

Heatwave conditions this summer have impacted on the potential yield of the dryland cotton in northern NSW, Liverpool Plains through to Moree and Walgett.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) cotton research and development agronomist, Jonathan Baird, said conditions were favourable early in the season, with crops planted on a full moisture profile.

Photo: File

Photo: File

“Growers could have expected yields of four to five bales per hectare, now heatwave conditions in 2017 have impacted on crops and yields will be closer to 2.5 bales per hectare,” Mr Baird said.

“Heat and lack of rain has matured the cotton crops causing plants to cut out and stop producing new growth. The flow on effect could lead to defoliation in the next few weeks, resulting in an early harvest for the region’s dryland crops.

Heat and lack of rain has matured the cotton crops causing plants to cut out and stop producing new growth. - Jonathan Baird, DPI cotton research and development agronomist

“Cooler temperatures will be welcome and rain would benefit dryland cotton crops now to fill out the remaining cotton bolls and improve lint quality.”

Mr Baird said irrigated cotton, which has received adequate water applications, is looking good, despite high temperatures and lack of rain.

“Potential yields are high for irrigated cotton, with growers hoping to better last years yields of around 11 bales per hectare,” he said.

“There is plenty of irrigation water available for NSW growers and many have been watering on a seven to eight day cycle to ensure crops aren’t affected by the heat.”

According to the February edition of the Australian Crop report, the national overview of area planted to cotton is estimated to have more than doubled in 2016–17 to 557,400 hectares, reflecting favourable supplies of irrigation water, high levels of soil moisture early in the planting window and expected favourable returns from growing cotton. Area planted to irrigated cotton is estimated to have increased by 66 per cent to 348,000 hectares and area planted to dryland cotton is estimated to have increased by 248 per cent to 209,400 hectares.

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