COTTON is going in the ground in the Central Highlands and Dawson Valley, with Wednesday marking the first day of the planting window.
Dan Austin, Kooroowatha, Theodore, was among the first to get seed in the ground, with 630 hectares of the 714 variety to be planted in the coming fortnight.
He said planting early was a no-brainer for him, after last year’s early crop more than impressed, with yields between 12.5 and 14 bales to the hectare, while the later crop yielded around the 8-9b/ha.
Mr Austin said the region is “very dry” at the moment, but Kooroowatha received 25mm about a month ago which helped.
“The river is fairly reliable, hopefully it’ll be right. We have enough to get everything going,” he said.
Also causing concern were the cooler temperatures in the last few weeks, which Mr Austin described as “a bit fresh”.
He said while he did worry it might delay planting, the soil on August 1 was around 13 degrees.
Meanwhile in Emerald, cooler temperatures throughout July were also borderline and planting decisions for August 1 were made quite late.
“Three weeks prior to planting, the soil temperatures across the Highlands were sitting at 12 degrees and on a steady rising plain,” Cotton Australia regional manager Renee Anderson said.
“Cotton can be planted into 12 -14 degrees, with 14 degrees being the optimal temperature.
“Soil temperatures on Aug 1st were perfect at 15.6 degrees in the black soil and 17 degrees in red country.”
Emerald and surrounding growers irrigating from the Fairbairn Dam were dealt a blow when their allocation was announced at just 6 per cent.
Ms Anderson said growers do have carry-over water from last season.
“We predict the area will be approximately 10,000 hectares (dryland) for this valley, with the potential for more semi-irrigated or dryland crops to be planted if there are good rainfall events between October and December,” she said.
“There is also the potential for dryland crops outside of the EIA if there is decent rainfall during October to December, as there was minimal winter dryland crops planted in the May-June period and the cotton price is excellent.”