THE success of cotton last season for traditional rice grower Chris Morshead of Widgelli outside Griffith in southern New South Wales has meant it will become a major part of the enterprise in the future.
Mr Morshead said he had been drawn to cotton because of the price and the technology available with the crop.
“At the time of the decision making for this year’s summer crop, the cotton price was pretty good. It was worth us having a go.” Mr Morshead said.
He said they had been farming on the flat and getting good results with other crops so it was an interesting challenge to switch to row cropping.
“It hasn’t been too difficult. There is a recipe to it and I think you follow the recipe and do things on time. Being pedantic is an important thing but we treat all of our crops in a pedantic fashion. The only thing that is a bit different to this is the watering regime.
“We were watering on a ten- to twelve-day rotation depending on what was happening. And we were getting across the cotton in four days so it wasn’t as onerous a task as what I assumed it was going to be.
“Water management is something you just cannot get wrong because it will cost you yield.”
Going forward the plan is to split the irrigated country equally between cotton and rice with both crops providing benefits to each other.
“They are both crops that you need to do properly for a start and they can work quite happily in unison,” Mr Morshead said. “I don’t think there needs to be a fight between the two commodities. I prefer to use them in a rotation as beneficial for each other and there’s no reason that can’t work successfully.
“We were interested in using the Roundup Ready® herbicide package in a rotation with rice, to take the pressure off both production systems. We are hoping that two years of Roundup applications will knock down our barnyard grass pressure and mean that our rice production will have a lot less sprays than we normally use.”
Mr Morshead said a key was investing time and money in land formation to ensure any crop could be planted to any paddock going forward.
“It gives us ultimate flexibility in terms of layout,” he said. “You could come back here next year and this could be wheat, it could be rice, it could be whatever you want.”
He said there was also good advice available from other farmers and agronomists on how to grow cotton successfully.
“I’m glad I’ve grown it. I’ve enjoyed the challenge and I’ve enjoyed the interaction with other growers. There’s been no shortage of assistance from anybody that I’ve rung or wanted to talk to. They’re all very open and I’ve really appreciated that.”
Source: Cotton Seed Distributors