Drought forces reduced cotton planting

Drought forces reduced cotton planting

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Jacob Little, Wynola, Brookstead, in front of his irrigation infrastructure drawn from a 724 megalitre underground bore allocation. Picture - Helen Walker

Jacob Little, Wynola, Brookstead, in front of his irrigation infrastructure drawn from a 724 megalitre underground bore allocation. Picture - Helen Walker

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Jacob Little reduces cotton planting to 35 hectares.

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The size of this year's cotton crop is in stark contrast to previous plantings for Jacob Little and his father Steve, Wynola, Brookstead.

In a normal year, the Littles would plant up to 100 hectares of solid plant cotton, but this year they are pinning their hopes on nursing through 35 hectares of skip row 746B3RF variety.

Jacob Little said they originally planted 80ha in the middle of October but had since ploughed in 45ha.

"We work on a farming plan and under-plant according to our water allocation," Mr Little said.

"What we didn't realise when we planted, the 45ha paddock did not have any sub-soil moisture."

The Littles dry planted and then watered up, with the country taking a day longer to absorb the moisture which rotted the seed, before it developed Fusarium Wilt.

Mr Little said the surviving 35ha, which was also planted dry and watered up, was established as the slope of the paddock is more aggressive and drained to absorbed the water.

So far the crop is tracking nicely and if it doesn't receive any in-crop rain, will get its only watering near Christmas when it is about half way through the growing season.

Mr Little said they draw the irrigation from a 724 megalitre underground bore allocation.

However, with last week's heat wave and fan forced high winds, some of the plants' leaves have been scorched and burnt, with secondary leaves now shooting.

Jacob Little checking on his cotton crop.

Jacob Little checking on his cotton crop.

Matthew Holding, Meteora Agronomic Consulting, said he had never seen such extreme weather so early in the growing season.

"It really is tough conditions for the little plants to get established, but in another couple of weeks they should be bulletproof."

The Littles are also watching their 112ha of irrigated corn planted in the middle of September.

"We are confident of getting the corn over the line but the cotton could suffer depending on the seasonal conditions," Mr Little said.

"We have forward sold 200 bales of cotton locked into $610/bale, and we'll wait to see what we produce."

Last year, the Little's crop averaged 11.27bales/ha.

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