Cot­ton creep­ing south

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Irrigated Crops - Emma Field news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

❝If (farm­ers) have a good grow­ing sea­son in the south­ern re­gion the up­side yield po­ten­tial is much bet­ter. — Luke Samp­son

COT­TON plant­ings in south­ern NSW are tipped to dou­ble this sea­son, amid high water al­lo­ca­tions, ex­cel­lent plant­ing con­di­tions and good prices.

And for the first time, cot­ton planted in the Rive­rina will out­strip rice plant­ings.

This year it is pre­dicted 89,320ha of cot­ton will be planted in the Lach­lan, Mur­ray and Mur­rumbidgee ir­ri­ga­tion val­leys, up 53% on the 58,210ha planted last year.

That’s ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Mon­santo based on farmer plant­ing in­ten­tions.

The big­gest jump in plant­ings was in the Mur­rumbidgee Val­ley, up 56% or 24,000ha on last year to 66,800ha. While in the Mur­ray Val­ley, tra­di­tion­ally a strong rice-grow­ing re­gion, Mon­santo pre­dicts plant­ings are up 36% to 4020ha. In the Lach­lan sys­tem, cot­ton acreage is tipped to rise 49% to 18,500ha.

A rea­son­ably large rice crop is pre­dicted to be planted in the NSW Rive­rina.

Last month the Aus­tralian Bureau of Agri­cul­tural and Re­source Eco­nomics and Sciences fore­cast 84,000ha of rice would be planted this year and, if re­alised, it will be the third largest crop in the past decade and up on the 80,000ha planted last sea­son.

Mon­santo south­ern NSW re­gional busi­ness man­ager, Luke Samp­son, said the re­gion was on track for record cot­ton pro­duc­tion for the sec­ond year in a row.

He said good water al­lo­ca­tions in the ir­ri­ga­tion re­gions was a ma­jor rea­son for the lift in cot­ton plant­ings, along with bet­ter po­ten­tial prof­itabil­ity for grow­ers com­pared with other crops such as rice and corn.

“The up­side po­ten­tial is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter in cot­ton than corn or rice,” he said.

“If (farm­ers) have a good grow­ing sea­son in the south­ern re­gion, the up­side yield po­ten­tial is much bet­ter.”

Cot­ton Aus­tralia south­ern val­leys re­gional man­ager, Honi An­der­son, said last sea­son’s crop was af­fected by wet con­di­tions that pre­vented plant­ings, but con­di­tions this year had been ideal.

“There are ex­ist­ing grow­ers who are plant­ing a lot more than last year, and new grow­ers who are opt­ing for cot­ton for the first time,” she said.

Rice Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Jeremy Mor­ton, said they would still “like higher water al­lo­ca­tions” but he be­lieved there would be good rice plant­ings be­cause a lot of water had been car­ried over from last year.

PHOTO: AN­DREW THORPE

GOOD SEA­SON AHEAD: Con­di­tions for cot­ton are ideal.

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