The Central Highlands cotton crop looks promising despite growers irrigating from the Fairbairn Dam being dealt a blow when their allocation was announced at just six per cent.
Since planting kicked off on August 1, almost 10,000 hectares of cotton has been planted in the region, with Central Highlands Cotton Growers’ Association president, Aaron Kiely, saying the crops were already showing positive signs.
“Overall, the season started off really well. There were a few cold weeks at the start of August, but overall, conditions have been quite favourable,” he said.
Despite those few cold weeks and some pulse crops in the region being damaged by frost events, Mr Kiely said none of the cotton crop had been affected.
“The temperature on one property got down to below zero degrees and the cotton did handle that, so there were no frost issues throughout the establishment of the cotton plants, which was quite fortunate,” he said.
Recent rain in the region has also been welcome, but hopes are set on further falls.
“The rainfall has been sporadic; the western side of the irrigation area of Emerald really hasn't had a lot of rain, but the eastern side has had reasonable falls,” Mr Kiely said.
“There's been a few growers that have undertaken one irrigation already, but the growers that planted from late August onward have been able to get underway without irrigating.
“Overall, the season is still looking promising, and people are more optimistic now that there's a bit of rain.”
It’s not all positive in the region though, with four incidents of spray drift causing damage to crops already.
Cotton Australia chief executive officer, Adam Kay, said it was incredibly disappointing and frustrating to see that many reports already this season.
“It will take a little bit of time to see whether it's actually just been a light dusting and it might grow through, or if it's been quite heavy and affects the plant,” he said.
“The next couple of weeks will tell if the crops can recover from it.”
Mr Kay said he encouraged all farmers who use 2,4-D to look at the new guidelines and label changes, and act accordingly.
“In talking to the APVMA, if these changes they've made don't result in a reduction in spray drift, or an elimination of spray drift, they've got to move to much more severe restrictions,” he said.