Central Queensland update

16 December, 2018


With December having rolled around for 2018, a couple of things come to mind for me; Christmas is not far away, and picking is drawing ever closer for those with early planted cotton in Central Queensland. Planting is slowly drawing to a close over the Darling Downs region and the majority of trials are now underway in the area, with establishment and PUI’s mostly complete. As a representative for CSD’s E&D team in both of these regions, my role sees me undertaking trials across a reasonable chunk of Queensland’s cotton growing area. In the latest era of cotton growing in Australia, which sees a much wider planting window, this means looking at cotton in growth stages from emergence right through to cut out, all within the same week.

As is the case with most cotton growing regions across Australia, this season has seen its fair share of challenges for the CQ region. A dry winter has been exacerbated by the fact that dam and storage levels are well down on previous years and hence the allocation of irrigation water, particularly for Emerald, was quite low. The Dawson irrigation area has managed to pick up some water, following a small flow in the river earlier in the season. Overall however, the planting area for CQ is down on the last few seasons.

Much of the crop in CQ was planted early again this season, primarily in August or September. Crops that were planted very early in August experienced cool weather during emergence and for a period of time during establishment. Although initial development was slow, once the heat units began to accumulate, the crops had set up well and began to thrive.

CSD has a number of trials planted across the central Queensland region. These include early planted trials in both the Ambassador program and the variety trials program, which were planted at Theodore, Springsure and Emerald. Late planted trials are currently planned for Moura, Springsure and possibly Emerald, depending on the planting situation in December. There was also a side by side agronomy trial planted in Theodore, which is a direct comparison between Dynasty® seed treatment and the new Vibrance® CST seed treatment, which will be released commercially for next season.

Currently these trials are well into the flowering period, or very close to cut-out, with picking likely to commence in mid to late January for the earliest planted trials and in February for those planted in September. The weather, which was kind for a vast majority of the season, has turned into relentless heat for the past couple of weeks, although there has still been a reasonable level of sunshine.

At the time of writing, growers and industry alike are watching the skies and the weather forecasts closely, as we wait to see the effect that TC Owen may have on the growing regions. Dryland crops have been planted in parts of CQ in the hopes of some rain for germination and follow up moisture, while irrigated growers are also hoping for a possible boost to available water for irrigation. The main hope for the early planted crops is that there are not too many days where extensive cloud cover and humidity are present, which would likely effect late fruit on crops that have now cut out, or are very close to it. All in all, it won’t be too much more of a wait until we see the pickers begin to roll out of the sheds and into the paddocks, early in the New Year.

By Sam Lee, Extension & Development Manager – Queensland