The Darling Downs Cotton Growers Association has held its cotton grower awards, recognising the achievements of the 2017/18 season.
The Greg McVeigh Memorial Trophy for Outstanding Yield was awarded to Jason and Briony Sinclair, Lakeland Downs, Condamine, for their irrigated crop producing 16.46 bales per hectare.
Mr Sinclair said it was great to win the award, but he and Briony were just focused on trying to produce 15 or 16 bales to the hectare every year.
“Last season we had a really good run,” he said.
“It was probably a little bit hot at night still in January and February, and then towards the end we had six inches (152mm) of rain in a week and it suffered a bit of boll rot; our agros estimated we probably lost two bales to boll rot.
“It sort of picked better than it looked; when it first started to come off I though it was a bit disappointing because of how it looked, and at the end it ginned out nice and clean, and turn out was really good because of the good, dry season.”
Last year the couple grew 700ha with dryland and another couple hundred hectares of irrigated, and Mr Sinclair said despite the dry conditions they hoped to increase their dryland plant.
“It’s really all water dependent because we don’t have a catchment, we’re just high flow straight out of the Condamine River, and this season water is tight but all our country’s prepped up,” he said.
“It’s been prepped for a while and ready to go, so after we get some storms we’ll stack a bit of moisture, and we’ve got probably 1200ha with dryland to put in this year.
“Irrigated will be a couple hundred, but we’re just going to start with 50ha; come October we budget 10ML/ha at planting and if we get a hot run that gives us enough water to finish it.”
After losing their crop in the 2010/11 floods and having to start again with infrastructure, they decided to go to a bigger siphon and head ditch, knocking four hours off their watering times.
“We went from 12 hours back to eight and that made the biggest difference, and our yields just kept going up from there,” he said.
“When 12 bales was good we said we could do 15 or 16 and our bosses gave us free reign to give it a go if we thought it was possible.
“The first year we did 15.5 and the year after that we did up round 16. Three years ago we set the new yield record for Dalby at 16.95, then this year we did 16.43.”