28 February, 2003
__Despite the drought and water availability uncertainties, cotton crops judged in the annual Mungindi crop competition earned solid praise from judge Pedr Harvey, an agronomist with Twynam at Moree.
First prize was awarded to Jon Grainger of “Yarrowee” with a crop of Sicot 289i, second to Rob Harpham of “Yarramildi” (Sicot 71), and third to Bruce Longworth at “South Bunarba” with a crop of Sicot 189 Roundup Ready.
The drought did deposit one redeeming feature, below average insect pressure, which left a legacy of good boll loads and early crops, with many growers picking up to a month earlier than last year.
Judge Pedr Harvey also commended weed control in most crops, and was impressed by water strategies that produced very good crops with 5-6 irrigations, including perfect timing of the last irrigation as the top bolls matured.
Jon Grainger’s total cropping area was cut back due to water limitations and his winning crop was grown in a back-to-back field, with only two insecticide sprays, both for mirids. No Pix growth regulator was required, and the crop recovered well from light hail damage and some leaf loss in November.
CSD agronomist covering the Mungindi area, Greg Kauter, said an unseasonally hot spring had caused seedlings to struggle early, forcing some growers to choose between an early watering or push through to a later irrigation, due to limited water availability.
“Irrigation timing presented most growers with a management dilemma all through the season, especially when hot weather persisted, because most had a tight water budget to start with.
“Accumulated heat is an important driver of cotton crop development, and this season has broken all records for heat during the growing season in Mungindi.
“For the period that this crop was in the ground, the Day Degrees measure of accumulated heat was 2117, the warmest on record, against the district average of 1852, which represents an increase of just over 14 per cent.
“To add further pressure to irrigation timing and management, the average number of days over 35 degrees at Mungindi this summer almost doubled reaching 81 days, compared with the average of only 47,” Greg Kauter said.
Crop competition judge Pedr Harvey said that taking all these factors into consideration, the crops were of a very high standard, and testimony to sound planning and decision making all through the season.
Pictured: Jon Grainger and Paul Gidday, “Yarrowee,” Mungindi, and agronomist Dallas King from Street Ag. Services.
Further Information: Greg Kauter, *Robert Eveleigh**, John Marshall or Craig McDonald
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