Cotton season turns around at Ivanhoe

Porter family's cotton season turns around at Ivanhoe

Cotton
RAIN RELIEF: Grant and Jason Porter, in cotton at Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains.

RAIN RELIEF: Grant and Jason Porter, in cotton at Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains.

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For Grant Porter, Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains, the timing of the recent deluge has turned around an otherwise challenging season.

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Rain has brought welcome relief to cotton growers on parts of the Darling Downs after a dry start to the season.

For Grant Porter, Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains, the timing of the recent deluge has turned around an otherwise challenging season.

Dry planting 240 hectares in the last week of October and then watering up, Mr Porter said it had been one of the driest plants they've ever had.

"We received no rainfall between when we put our furrows up in July and when we planted, which is almost unheard of," he said.

"So we had some challenges planting it dry, but we got it to work."

The Porters planted Sicot 746 across most of their farms this season, but also used 754 where fusarium wilt is an issue.

"The 754 was part of our dry weather plan and has been good to us this season," Mr Porter said.

"We haven't had to rush out and irrigate the crop to try and save the plants from shutting down due to fusarium wilt.

"We've also planted a small amount of 748; because it was such a dry start we didn't know how things were going to pan out, so we decided to use a variety that might perform better if we were to turn the tap off. "

The Porters planted Sicot 746 across most of their farms this season.

The Porters planted Sicot 746 across most of their farms this season.

Like many cotton growers, the Porters experienced "super dry, hot and windy" emergence conditions this season.

"We got sandblasted seedlings due to the wind picking up dust relentlessly," Mr Porter said.

"We had a lot of the plants come up with their leaves very close to the dirt, and we think the heat of the soil also singed some of the leaves.

"It was a rough start, but the position we're in now is pretty good considering."

Mr Porter said comparing the recent rain to their total rainfall for 2019 shows how lucky they have been.

"We had our lowest rainfall on record last year; this recent fall has towered that, we've had in excess of 300mm and we realise that we've been very fortunate because even some of our neighbours haven't received half of that."

Given the challenges of previous seasons and the dry start, Mr Porter said they had a plan to finish their crop without rainfall this year.

"We weren't going to take any risks on that because it just didn't look like any rain was going to fall," he said.

"We were managing our risk across our farms, but this rain has been such a blessing and it is going to allow us to finish off the crop nicely across all of our farms.

"We are going to cop a little bit of a yield penalty though because we delayed the first water so that the plant didn't grow too much.

"Even though now we've got as much rain as we could want, we've hindered ourselves a little bit because of that, but still it's amazing compared to what it would have been like without the rain."

Their dry weather plan for the crop also included lowering the amount of nitrogen they applied at the beginning of the season.

"We expected to put that nitrogen on later in the season if the season turned and we were going to put it on through the irrigation.

"Because of the rain, we haven't been able to irrigate as yet, so we flew on some urea with the plane, which is a more expensive option but we think it is worth doing."

Jade variety mungbeans are out of the ground at Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains, after they were planted on February 1.

Jade variety mungbeans are out of the ground at Ivanhoe, Condamine Plains, after they were planted on February 1.

The timing of the rain has also allowed the Porters to plant 160ha of Jade mungbeans.

"We put them in Saturday (Feb 1). They came up Monday, and by Tuesday you could see rows," Mr Porter said.

"It was an unexpected surprise for us to be planting something this season; we thought it was going to be dry.

"We didn't plant everywhere that we had moisture with mungbeans, being the plant they are, you can never be sure if you're going to get a return off them."

"We would have planted additional country to sorghum, but our thoughts are that it is a little too late to be planting sorghum.

"We've left some of our country out for the potential of winter crop or sorghum crop next year."

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