A 'world record' cotton pick is believed to be underway in the Central Highlands this season according to Cotton Australia.
Substantial rain in late 2021, coupled with favourable growing conditions, is attributing to exceptionally high yielding cotton crops at Comet, 40km east of Emerald.
One of the local growers picking their crops is Comet district cotton grower Neek Morawitz of Argoon and Currimundi.
He has planted 1500ha of cotton across two farms, with the first seeds sown earlier in August.
With more than 600ha of cotton already picked, he had recored yields of up to 21 bales per/ha, but some other Comet growers had reported 23.5 bales/ha. Mr Morawitz said the team were very pleased.
"It's been an exceptionally good harvest so far and we're just really pleased with it," he said.
"We've picked around 600ha of the crop and then we'll have a break for a couple of weeks, as more of the crop becomes maturer.
"Overall, we're looking at a solid result across all the hectares that we've planted and we feel really fortunate that everything has played in our favour.
"It's been a very good growing season for the team here, and the weather's been been mostly fine, which is what we're looking for when we pick cotton."
Planting the Sicot 748B3F variety, Mr Morawitz said the crop had six irrigations and two timely rainfall events that filled the profile.
Above average rainfall in November 2021 enabled growers on the Fairbairn Dam water scheme a timely increase to their allocations.
The increased water availability allowed some irrigated growers to bolster their cotton production as well.
"This will probably be the largest production year that we've had with cotton," Mr Morawitz said.
"We were very fortunate to have the rain back in November last year, that was enough to run the rivers and create water harvest opportunities for us. That, coupled with an increase in allocation from the Fairbairn dam, is what has allowed us to grow a record crop across our properties this year.
"The yield is going to be variable. Some of the early planted cotton has been exceptionally high yielding and some of the best yields that we've ever seen."
In hopes more water would become available, Mr Morawitz said the team made the decision to extend the growing season.
The crop was left to mature in the ground longer and evidently yield more.
"We still have a few hectares of cotton here that is still green and being irrigated that will yield less, but this long maturing crop is the one that has high yield potential," he said.
"We made a choice about mid way through the season that when the water became available, we would extend this crop and grow it on to hopefully bolster the boll production and so far, it's worked out."
NRG Ag farm manager Craig Barsby said the crop's yield certainly exceeded their expectations.
"We were a bit concerned throughout the season with limited water, but we were lucky enough back in November 2021 to get a rainfall event which helped us along," he said.
"We had a 10 day heatwave in early March and it did have an impact on the tops of the later planted cotton."
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