Limited stored water an ongoing concern

Central Highlands cotton growers irrigating on limited store water

Cotton
Comet district cotton grower, Neek Morawitz, planted the two Bollgard varieties - 748 B3F and 746 B3F, in August. As in other years, the crop has been irrigated but in-crop rain would beneficial.

Comet district cotton grower, Neek Morawitz, planted the two Bollgard varieties - 748 B3F and 746 B3F, in August. As in other years, the crop has been irrigated but in-crop rain would beneficial.

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Cotton farmers are relying on limited store water supplies they were allocated back in March to irrigate their crops in Emerald.

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Central Highlands cotton farmers are irrigating on limited stored water they were allocated and collected at the start of the year to water their crops.

As dry conditions and insufficient rainfalls continue to affect the Emerald region, farmers have taken advantage of their available stored water and planted crops going into the summer with the hope significant rainfalls will replenish water supplies this Christmas.

Comet district cotton grower, Neek Morawitz, utilised his water storage infrastructure to harvest water from rain events in March, which he stored for the upcoming season.

Planting the two Bollgard varieties - 748 B3F and 746 B3F, Mr Morawitz planted on his home property Argoon and at his neighbouring Currimundi property in early August.

"We basically planted the first week of August and we put down around 140,000-150,000 seeds per hectare," Mr Morawitz said.

"We were hoping if we accumulated some rain and gathered a bit more water, everything could have six or seven irrigations, but the way it's going some will get less."

This comes after Fairbairn Dam hit a historic low on December 9, reaching 7.83 per cent capacity, implementing tough water restrictions and sending water prices skyrocketing.

The Morawitz properties are located at the junction of the Comet and Nogoa Rivers, just 40 kilometres east of Emerald.

"We've got a few hundred hectares planted across three farms," Mr Morawitz said.

"The cotton looks decent enough but if it doesn't rain here soon it's going to probably be one irrigation short and some of it might be two."

In a normal season, Mr Morawitz usually gives his cotton six in-crop waters, plus any in-crop rain.

He said they were pleased with the upcoming crop, however the heat in early December was extreme but that could drive some beneficial storm rain.

"We irrigate off the river, but the water we've used in the summer is water that we have harvested earlier in the year back in February and March," he said.

The Morawitz family planted 40 per cent of the crop this season compared to last year. While some farmers in the region opted to sow a larger winter crop, they preferred to hold off for an early cotton plant.

"We felt there was going to be more profitability in growing a limited, irrigated area of cotton," Mr Morawitz said.

"In a season like this, there's a lot of variability around production because of limited water and so we haven't forward sold.

"It usually rains when the picker comes out of the shed, let's hope it happens again this year; everyone is hanging out for some water security."

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