Cot­ton crops lov­ing the hot­ter weather

South Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY - Michael Nolan michael.nolan@south­bur­nett­times.com.au

THE pigs may be sweat­ing, the corn may be wilt­ing and the paint may be peel­ing but the cot­ton crop loves the heat.

Peter Enkel­mann, who runs a cot­ton plan­ta­tion at Sil­ver­leaf, said his crop was thriv­ing.

“We’re very happy with it but it’ll be at least two months away from har­vest­ing,” Mr Enkel­mann said.

“Pro­vided we can keep the wa­ter to it, cot­ton can tol­er­ate heat. That said, it doesn’t like it ex­ces­sively hot. This area can grow good cot­ton (and) gen­er­ally doesn’t get too hot.”

Mr Enkel­mann said there was noth­ing like cot­ton when it came to con­vert­ing wa­ter into cash.

“Cot­ton gives the great­est re­turn per me­gal­itre of wa­ter,” he said. “Some­times hor­ti­cul­ture groups can get a bet­ter re­turn but there are no other crops in this area that would give as good a re­turn.

“If we’re dry for the next years, we might only get one al­lo­ca­tion so we’ll plant mung beans.”

Mung beans do not re­quire sus­tained ir­ri­ga­tion and the grow time is shorter, so Mr Enkel­mann can cash out quicker.

With a lower-than-av­er­age rain­fall across the district, Byee cot­ton farm­ers are mak­ing do with a re­duced ir­ri­ga­tion al­lo­ca­tion.

“We get wa­ter from BP (Bjelke-Petersen) Dam. There wasn’t a full al­lo­ca­tion, we’re down to 74%.

“We’ve had low rain fall and ex­ces­sive heat, which is a dou­ble whammy for ir­ri­ga­tors,” Mr Enkel­mann said.

Ir­ri­ga­tors pay the same rate, re­gard­less of al­lo­ca­tion.

Mr Enkel­mann is tri­alling a new strain of cot­ton this year that should be more pest re­sis­tant and pro­duced more bulbs than pre­vi­ous strains, with an aim for higher yields.

PHOTO: KATHERINE MORRIS

TWO WORDS: Cot­ton farmer Peter Enkel­mann and agron­o­mist Wayne Seiler in­spect the cot­ton crop.

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