Clapham's dry planting ends with 12.7 bales/ha

Brookstead cotton grower nursed his crop through until it rained

Cotton
The Clapham family's average farm yield was 12.7/bales to the hectare from the 120 hectare crop planted last November.

The Clapham family's average farm yield was 12.7/bales to the hectare from the 120 hectare crop planted last November.

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Mitchell Clapham would rather forget his 2019-20 cotton growing season.

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Last year's cotton growing season is one that Brookstead farmer Mitchell Clapham would rather forget thanks to a very dry start.

Mr Clapham, who farms Lone Pine in partnership with his wife Dimitie, and parents Philip and Debbie, dry planted 120 hectares of 746 BRF in early November 2019.

He said due to the ground being so dry, once the seeds were planted he immediately applied 120 millimetres of irrigation.

"It was a real battle to begin with, and we just kept applying the water and used another 40mm, to get the plant established," he said.

Brodie Cronau was kept busy moving the irrigation pipes over the Clapham family's 120 hectare cotton crop near Brookstead, last year.

Brodie Cronau was kept busy moving the irrigation pipes over the Clapham family's 120 hectare cotton crop near Brookstead, last year.

The Claphams draw their water supply from underground mains from the Condamine Alluvium.

"We really were just ticking along using smaller amounts of water regularly until we got a decent break in the season," he said.

Mr Clapham said the first decent rain event arrived in January when they received 200mm.

From then, the growing season turned the corner and the crop thrived.

"It was just beautiful conditions, there was no insect pressure and we didn't have to do any mirid sprays due to the dry weather," he said.

"We were lucky the heat was not extreme.

"If we had endured the heat of the previous season, we certainly would have been in a world of pain."

Mr Clapham said harvesting got underway in May.

"Overall, we were happy with the result - our average farm yield was 12.7/bales to the hectare," he said.

The family forward sold the entire crop for upwards of $500/bale.

"Our cotton is ginned at the Cecil Plains Gin, which at one stage was not going to open due to the lack of cotton in the district, but they did in the end," he said.

Mr Clapham said they were now on-track to plant 300ha of cotton at the end of October.

"This is the best we have had season wise, and the best sub-soil moisture in the past four years," he said.

"As well, we have stored groundwater in our dams."

The Clapham family also planted 120ha of chickpeas and 220ha of wheat as part of their winter program and say the crops look promising.

"This is the first winter crop we have planted in the past five years and so far, are very happy with the crops," he said.

"If we get more winter rain, we will look to plant an early sorghum crop."

The Clapham family are one of the few family-based partnerships spanning four generations - with grandfather Colin, father Philip, Mitchell and his son Hamish - farming near Brookstead. They first started growing cotton in the late 1980s.

Mitchell has been growing cotton for 15 years.

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