From horticulture to cotton

From horticulture to cotton farming

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Theodore has a new cotton grower in town.

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NEIL West, Farley, Theodore, spent most of his life in the horticulture industry in North Queensland. 

Now with his wife and three kids in tow, Mr West has settled in Theodore managing Farley, a predominantly cotton farm. 

BIG PLANS: Neil West, Farley, Theodore, with his first ever cotton crop. Mr West wants to explore more crop rotation opportunities on the cotton farm.

BIG PLANS: Neil West, Farley, Theodore, with his first ever cotton crop. Mr West wants to explore more crop rotation opportunities on the cotton farm.

With 120 hectares of cotton planted in early October, Mr West was hoping to begin picking in early March, and said he was very happy with how his first cotton experience went. 

He said while the crop was subject to mirid pressure earlier in the season like most of Central Queensland’s cotton, it still performed well. 

In the next year or so I’d like to look at crop rotations, maybe mungbeans or chickpeas. - Neil West

All the cotton is irrigated, but Mr West said the dry season had taken a toll on the region’s crops. 

While Farley has traditionally been a cotton on cotton operation with the occasional opportunity crop, Mr West said he was hoping to introduce more rotational grazing. 

“In the next year or so I’d like to look at crop rotations, maybe mungbeans or chickpeas,” he said. 

“Just to get that nutrients in the ground and help with the pests.”

Coming into cotton in the first year of Bollgard 3 gave Mr West a chance to join the industry in a time of great change. 

With the extended planting window the new variety offers, he said the chance of successfully rotating crops would be much higher than before on the property. 

He said like most growers, he was eager to see the year’s results. 

“I’m still waiting to see how the crops planted on the first of August will yield compared to the later ones,” he said. 

After being born and bred in Bowen and then spending 12 years in the construction industry, Mr West said after convincing his dad to let him come back to the farm, he became fully immersed in the horticulture industry. 

He said the cotton industry was a different ballgame – not only because of the higher intensity crop, but because of the aim of the industry as a whole. 

“The industry is certainly a unique one,” he said. 

“There’s a willingness to ask questions, and everyone in the industry is really happy to help.

“In horticulture you’re selling to the public, you’re marketing yourself, it’s not just product, it’s who you are as a farmer and everything else. 

“With cotton it’s a bit different - everyone is in it together.”

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