Macquarie Valley cotton performs well

30 May, 2018


The 2017-18 cotton season in the Macquarie Valley will be remembered for a long time to come. A combination of warm and dry growing conditions, perfect defoliation and picking weather, excellent yields and better than average prices have resulted in a bumper year with some yield reports of more than 17 bales per hectare. In particular, the area downstream of Warren has gone extremely well.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, with pressure on irrigation cycles tightened in the very dry summer period. With constant blue skies, in-crop water use was above average – up to ten in-crop irrigations. In-crop rainfall was very low with virtually no rain from January onward.

A warm end to the season allowed cotton bolls fully open and fluff out, with crops finishing very well. Fibre quality is excellent with great colour, leaf and length. There has been a small amount of high micronaire in isolated crops. Ginning turnouts have been very good. Local gins in the region will be running right through into September this year.

Cotton seed for stock feed has been in big demand with seed being picked up by trucks as fast as it is being produced.
Following is a snapshot of Day Degrees for the 2017-18 season for both north of Warren and Narromine. Day Degree accumulation is one part of the cotton growing mix. Combined with in crop rainfall and solar radiation and other climate parameters the mix proved to be ideal this season.

Warren Day Degrees – Mumblebone (51034)

Average Day Degrees
1/10/17 – 31/04/18 (61 years of data)
Day degrees 2017-18
1/10/17 – 31/04/18
2,431 2,818

• No year has had more than 2,818 day degrees for the above dates (61 years of records).
• The 2016-17 season at the same site accumulated 2,654 Day Degrees for the same period.
• A reduction in the number of cold shock days (days less than 11°C) in the 2017-18 season appears to have been a positive for the season also.

Narromine Day Degrees – Narromine Airport (65012)

Average Day Degrees
1/10/17 – 31/04/18 (61 years of data)
Day degrees 2017-18
1/10/17 – 31/04/18
2,227 2,630

Strong results for first time growers

In their first season, new cotton growers in the Geurie and Dunedoo areas have produced some very respectable cotton yields (final ginning results still pending). The seasonal conditions certainly favoured them, but good preparation, timely operations, good industry support and agronomic advice all contributed to these growers having a successful first season in the industry.

Local interest in cotton in these Eastern regions was strong, with a lot of people ‘looking over the fence’ at how the crops were going. A number of field days held throughout the season were well attended, so we could see even more new growers planting cotton in these regions this spring.

By Craig McDonald, Extension & Development Agronomist – Central NSW.