Cotton classed as young, vibrant industry

Neil Lyon July 12, 2019

THE age of the average cotton grower in Australia is a sprightly 47.2 years and the vast majority of producers are upbeat about the future of their industry, according to the 2018 Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) grower survey.

(Image: CRDC)

“We’ve long known our industry is dynamic and progressive and, as the 2018 CRDC cotton grower survey shows, it’s also pretty young compared to other ag industries, with our average age just 47,” CRDC executive director, Dr Ian Taylor, said.

“The survey also shows that 95 per cent of growers are positive about the future of the industry. Yes, we’re all going through a challenging time now with the prolonged dry conditions, but overall, our industry is one of optimism and resilience.

“Perhaps most importantly for us, the survey shows that 96 per cent of cotton growers believe research, development and extension drive continuous improvement of the Australian cotton industry. The industry’s culture of innovation, supported by and embracing RD&E, has been a major contributor to its success to date.”

The key results from the 246 respondees to the survey show:

  • The average age of a cotton grower is 47.2 years.
  • The average yield for fully irrigated cotton across all valleys was 11.22 bales/hectare in 2017-18.
  • Central Queensland had 289 millimetres of in-crop rainfall; southern NSW had 113mm.
  • 17 per cent of growers generate and use solar energy. The Macquarie Valley in central NSW has the highest number percentage of growers who do so (38pc).
  • Growers use an average of 133 litres/ha of diesel for in-field operations, and 111L/ha for pumping water.
  • 44pc of all growers have a farm biosecurity plan – the highest in Central Queensland (64pc), followed by northern NSW (48pc).
  • 100pc of large farms, and 90pc of small farms, control volunteer and ratoon cotton.
  • 49pc of growers have confirmation of herbicide-resistant weeds. This is highest in southern NSW (56pc); northern NSW (52pc); and the Macintyre Balonne (48pc). Annual ryegrass is the worst offender.
  • 29pc of cotton growers were affected by spray drift in 2018-19 – up 16pc on the 2013 results. The average financial cost of this was $47,009.

The Australian cotton industry in 2017-18: grew 500,000 hectares of irrigated and dryland cotton, just shy of the 2016-17 crop, which was the largest crop in five years.

The industry produced 4.6 million bales in 2017-18 worth $2.92 billion in gross value.


Read the full grower survey report for 2018,

The 2019 CRDC grower survey is now open. If you’re a cotton grower or farm manager, participate today at




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