Cotton returns buffer drought for first-time grower

Grain Central September 27, 2019

Dennis Rush grew cotton for the first time last season on the family farm near Texas on the NSW-Qld border, about 100 kilometres east of Goondiwindi.

YOUNG farmer, Dennis Rush, says introducing cotton onto the family’s ‘Hopewood’ property near Texas on the New South Wales-Queensland border for the first time last season has helped them through the ongoing drought.

Mr Rush and his family have been on ‘Hopewood’ for more than a century and have traditionally been cattle farmers with various fodders being the only cropping on the property over the past 100 years.

In April last year, he made the decision to try cotton for the first time, planting 208 hectares under centre pivots at the start of the 2018-19 season.

At the time, the main driver for introducing the crop was the price of cotton, and potential for returns.

Mr Rush said being able to forward-sell around half of this year’s cotton crop at well over $600 per bale was a great attraction.

“When you look at the gross returns (from cotton), there was really no other option,” he said.

Mr Rush said most of the property was prone to flooding, and as a result, they had significant weed issues with nutgrass, caster oil plant and Bathurst burr, regularly brought in by floodwater.

“We’ve got a big opportunity to clean our country up through a cotton-based rotation.”

Roundup Ready technology had helped smooth the move into row cropping.

“I’ve never been a (row crop) farmer but what I’ve found most comforting about the transition is that cotton is an easy crop to grow.”

Mr Rush has also been impressed with the sense of community within the cotton industry.

“The support has been brilliant and I’ve known where we’ve been at the whole time throughout the season. And any time when I’ve been unsure about something, there’s always been someone I could contact.”

He has also valued the information available at field days, the 2018 Australian Cotton Conference and from his agronomist.

Mr Rush harvested over 10 bales per hectare from his first crop, meaning an average gross margin of over $4000/ha.

“To come out of a season with those returns, when many people are in dire situations because of the drought, is a massive bonus,” he said.

Source: Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd


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