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Shaky start to cotton season in north-west New South Wales

Lisa Herbert, Thursday December 5, 2013 - 09:21 EDT
ABC image
Cold spring nights resulted in little growth of cotton seedlings in the NSW Gwydir Valley. Thrips didn't help either. Thankfully the season is getting back on track now - ABC

Cotton growers in the NSW north-west say they’ve faced the toughest starts to a season in many years.

Hot, windy days and cold nights meant cotton seedlings didn't grow, an early crop harvest saw thrips moving onto the young cotton, and hail hit some cotton crops.

At Moree, Nick Gillingham, manager of Keytah which is one of the country’s biggest cotton enterprises, says having little rain forced him to plant irrigated cotton only.

“We’ve put in 100 per cent irrigated because there hasn’t been any rain for dryland cotton.

Mr Gillingham is hopeful the rough start to the season is now behind him.

“We’ve done more replanting than we’ve done for years.

“We’ve got a bit of a stand now. Hopefully the season will run with us now and we’re not too disadvantaged with yield."

Cotton Seed Distributors agronomist James Quinn says the western part of the Gwydir Valley remains very dry, while the east had a little bit of rain.

“The implications of that are that we had very little opportunity to plant in the middle of the planting window for the dryland cotton.

“In terms of the irrigated cotton, we had some very good soil temperatures all the way through the planting window.

“The cold nights really set the crop back. And the hot days were associated with some low humidity days and some nasty winds which dried the soil profile moisture quickly.

“Thrips moved in once harvest started and they really attacked the leaves severely.   

“It’s the worst we’ve seen for a number of years.

“In some of the worst cases we may see some yield decline but it’s too early to tell now.�


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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