COTTON growers in St George are again facing another challenging season with many expected to fall short of their required waterings and crops being dropped throughout the summer.
With heat and bug pressures causing havoc on the last summer season, this year it was a lack of in crop rain that is the biggest battle.
Newly elected St George Cotton Growers’ Association president Drew Knights operates UT Downs outside of St George and planted 170 hectares of 748B3F and 746B3F in the second week of October.
He usually dry plants and waters up but after the wet change in October, Mr Knights planted into moisture.
Thankfully he is one of the lucky ones and will have enough water to get him through to harvest which he expects will be by the end of March.
It’s thanks mainly to a decision six years ago to reduce their full planting potential from 550 hectares after running out of water.
He said with the changing seasons and yield potential from new varieties, it was safer to plant less.
“Just with the really hot summers we have been getting we have had to change our water ratios so we now work on 12MG/ha on farm at the start of the season which is the highest we have worked at,” he said.
“With all the new varieties and the yield potential there and the current change in weather where we don’t seem to be getting any in crop rain and hot summers, we have just got to be conservative and grow what we can to full potential.
“Last year we had in 270ha. It’s just that we had a bit more of a run in the river in early spring.
“The weather has changed, now we seem to be getting our flows in April and spring and then no in crop rain old mother nature is not helping us much there.”
His parents property, to the south, is one of many in the area that is set to fall short of its required waterings with all hope lying on forecast rain for the area from today.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 28mm had fallen in the town of St George since 9am and Mr Knights said it would make a huge difference if it could find those in need.
“There are some people that have dropped crops in November and been dropping since (and) some people that are going to be two three waters short,” he said.
“For the people that are going to be one or one and a half water short if we can get under 40mm of rain this weekend that will nearly get them over the line.
“It takes it from (being) a paying crop, you are making money, where as you might be just covering costs because your last two or three irrigations are just as crucial as your first two or three.”
He said if everything went to plan he wouldn’t be surprised if there were reports of six bale to the acre yields this year.