PROSPECTS for the 2019/20 cotton season in eastern Australia remain stymied by drought and low water storage levels, with Cotton Australia forecasting total national production will be a mere 850,000 bales – the second lowest in the past 30 years.
Last year the national crop reached 2.1 million bales and the year before growers produced a record 4.6 million bales.
Cotton Australia chief executive officer Adam Kay said such was the state of the main supply dams in the cotton-growing valleys, the bulk of this season’s irrigated crop would be grown on ground water drawn from bores.
“Southern New South Wales will probably be the biggest area with 16,000 hectares; 4000-5000 hectares in the Lachlan; then not much through the Macquarie, Namoi and Gwydir valleys,” he said.
“There is some water in Central Queensland on the Dawson and around Emerald where there will be some crop.”
While the southern growing regions wait for warmer weather before planting gets going, CQ Ag Services general manager and senior agronomist, Darren Young, Emerald, said planting had been underway in CQ since August 1.
“August was challenging, being quite cool with a number of really cold temperatures. A little bit of cotton went in, but people waited till after the cold weather before planting more. Most of it is coming out of the ground now,” he said.
“There is not a lot in. I’d say about 7000 hectares have gone in so far. That’s all we have enough water for at the moment. But if we get some inflow into the dam, we have until the end of the year to plant more.
“However, it will still be a very reduced plant. Normally we have around 15,000 to 16,000 hectares.”
Grain Central: Get our free daily cropping news straight to your inbox – Click here