FOR Rob Ingram, Avondale, Emerald, this cotton season has proven to be almost never-ending.
After planting his earliest cotton in the first week of August, Mr Ingram will be picking the last of his crop in June – seeing cotton in the fields for 10 consecutive months.
Of a total 610 hectares, 365ha of cotton was planted.
The earliest was picked in January and the rest was split – with some picked in April, and the remainder to be grown on until June.
The decision to grow on part of the crop came after untimely rainfall from ex-tropical cyclone Debbie.
After planting two of the four new varieties available to growers, Mr Ingram said he was happy with one and disappointed with another, and said it was a challenge picking which to plant.
Mr Ingram said next season he plans to plant two thirds of his crop early, and the remainder late.This season saw a third early, and the remainder late.
“The early cotton probably wasn’t as good as it would have been if we had waited a month,” he said.
“However we were happy and had really good grades, it was great to beat the weather.”
Mr Ingram said the season had been a trial-and-error for the entire region, with the extra flexibility afforded by Bollgard III giving more choices to growers than ever before.
And he took advantage of that choice.
Avondale currently has mungbeans and popcorn in the ground alongside the cotton. Winter cropping will see chickpeas go in, and once the popcorn comes out that land will go back to late cotton in November.
I only finished irrigating the crops that I’m growing-on one week, and we’re picking the next week.
Mr Ingram said he found the strike in his later-planted crop much better than the earlier plant in the cooler conditions.
He admitted having various irrigated crops at different stages was “full-on” but said the opportunity and flexibility of the planting window was definitely a step forward.
“I only finished irrigating the crops that I’m growing-on one week, and we’re picking the next week,” he said.
Mr Ingram was one of many Central Highlands growers who split their crop on the back of chickpeas last year.
He said it was a learning curve for the entire region.