Irrigation gets cotton crop over the line

Porter family happy with this season's cotton crop


Cotton
Louise Porter with son Grant, Attleigh, Condamine Plains, celebrate the end of the cotton harvest. Picture: Helen Walker

Louise Porter with son Grant, Attleigh, Condamine Plains, celebrate the end of the cotton harvest. Picture: Helen Walker

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Like many Queensland farmers, the Porter family started their cotton season off the back of one of the country's driest winters.

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Like many of Queensland's farmers, the Porter family of Attleigh started their cotton season off the back of one of the country's driest winters.

With no rain in sight, the Porters still managed to plant 240 hectares of 746 Bollgard 3 variety in October last year.

The farming partnership of Brett and Louise, along with their son Grant, planted their cotton crop in a solid formation of 40 inch rows and immediately applied flood irrigation over their crop.

"We shallow planted two centimetres deep into the dry top soil and watered by flood irrigation immediately," Grant said.

"This really helped our strike rate - this was one of the best strikes we have ever achieved."

The Porters draw their irrigation supply from the underground aquifer through bores, and store it in ring tanks ranged between 200 to 600 megalitres. If the season permits and it rains enough the Porters will also harvest the overland flow.

Grant said that the warmer heatwave like conditions experienced for a week in late October helped with their planting strike rate.

Grant Porter, Attleigh, Condamine Plains, farms in partnership with his parents Brett and Louise and is happy with the yield of 10 bales to the hectare his family's cotton crop returned.

Grant Porter, Attleigh, Condamine Plains, farms in partnership with his parents Brett and Louise and is happy with the yield of 10 bales to the hectare his family's cotton crop returned.

When preparing to plant cotton the family firmly believes in applying high nutrient program using waste products.

"After each year's harvest is over we apply cow manure sourced from nearby feedlots.

"Where possible we also buy in bio-solids which is sourced from treatment plants.

"Our cotton growing country grows cotton, is spelled for a season, and then cotton is grown again.

"We heavily rely on advice on applying nutrients from our agronomist Matthew Holding from Meteora Agronomic Consulting."

Once the cotton crop was established last year, the family was lucky enough to receive 125 millimetres of in-crop rain just prior to Christmas.

However Grant said the intensity of the downpour, all of which fell in just a matter of hours, meant that most of the rain ran off their black soil and flowed downstream.

"We were able to catch some of this flow in the ringtanks, and this helped nurse the crops through.

"Our crops received a total of between two to five waters depending on where we were able to harvest water.

"The growing season was harsh during January and February, it was hot and we did not register a drop of rain, so we were essentially doing a 10 to 14 day watering turnaround."

The family is happy with the crop they have produced and said it is testament to the genetic modification to Bollgard.

"It also reinforced how important it is to apply the nutrients and the timing of irrigation is essential," Grant said.

Bollgard's returns impress Porters

The Porter family farms 1214 hectares over six farms on the Condamine Plains and, as experienced cotton farmers, only grow as much irrigated cotton that they can water.

Son Grant said they grow the Bollgard cotton variety as it provides a good yield return for the water applied, and is resistant to fusarium wilt.

The Porter's cotton harvest got underway at Easter, and it took 14 days to complete.

"We were lucky there were no rain delays during picking and we had not received any hail damage to the crop during the growing season," Grant said.

The crop yield averaged 10 bales to the hectare, and half their crop was forward sold to Queensland Cotton.

With lint cotton prices fluctuating on a daily basis, the Porters said a bonus is the high price they are receiving for cotton seed.

"Due to the demand for cotton seed because of the drought, it is covering our ginning costs and we are now receiving a rebate," Grant said.

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