Cotton farmers optimistic for this season, despite COVID-19 impacts

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay is hopeful for some good spring rain. Photo: Supplied
Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay is hopeful for some good spring rain. Photo: Supplied

While cotton has felt the effects of COVID-19, producers in the Macquarie Valley are optimistic for this season's planting prospects thanks to good winter rain.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said the Macquarie Valley last season was an incredibly tough year for all producers, describing the drought as "horrendous."

"We had a very small crop of about 4700 hectares (ha) in the Macquarie, basically on ground water," he said.

"That's probably one-tenth of what would normally be planted."

But with more water currently flowing in the Burrendong Dam it is breathing a bit of life back into the Macquarie and for its producers, the CEO said.

"At this stage we're thinking there's going to be around 15,000ha of cotton (planted in the Macquarie region), so it's a good increase," Mr Kay said.

"Farmers will plant up until the end of October, so there's still six weeks to get some decent falls. Because every time it rains in Bathurst or Orange there are more flows."

Mr Kay is hopeful the prospects of rain forecast this weekend will help finish off winter crops to see them reach their full potential, and farmers also looking for good spring falls.

"The winter rain definitely helped the prospects of cotton and every cotton farmer is also a wheat or chickpea grower... so they're really hoping they can get a good crop off and have a good summer crop," he explained.

Unfortunately the cotton industry has been impacted by COVID-19, the Cotton Australia CEO said.

"With stores shut around the world that's meant demand for clothes and textiles has been destroyed to an extend so we've seen the price come off about 20 per cent," Mr Kay explained.

"This time last season we were seeing high pricing of $620 per bale, it's back at about $500 at the moment, which is still reasonable when you look at it on the long-term, but cotton has not been sheltered from the impacts of COVID-19."

Last season cotton in Australia produced around 600,000 bales and at this stage the national crop is being estimated at 2.1 million bales.

"And is increasing every time there is a decent fall of rain, because people can still respond to increased allocations by planting more," Mr Kay said.

"While 2.1 sounds good that's probably half of the real potential that is out there. It's a good part recovery but we would love to see a bit more and the demand for Australian cotton is there..."