When the Jemalong and Wyldes Plains irrigation district west of Forbes was officially opened in 1940, nobody could have imagined that the area might one day be noted for its cotton.
The waters diverted from the Lachlan to service the rich farmlands of the new irrigation area between Jemalong and Lake Cowal were intended – and mostly used – to grow pasture and fodder crops.
But today the Central Lachlan area serviced by Jemalong Irrigation (as the privatised scheme is now known) is acknowledged as eminently suited to high-value summer crops including cotton.
Proof positive came in the season of 2015-16, when cotton yields of 13-plus bales a hectare were commonplace, among them the first cotton crop grown by Bede and Mandy Tooth on their “Yarranlea Farms” aggregation near Burcher, which came in at 13.6 bales/ha.
And now the Tooths have a further 260ha of land prepared for cotton (or other summer row-crop) next season, backed by a Jemalong Irrigation water allocation of 129 per cent.
All of which will be handed to a successful purchaser if, as expected, “Yarranlea Farms” is sold after tenders for the 2191ha (5413ac) property close on July 18.
The Tooths have a further 260ha of land prepared for cotton next season.
“Yarranlea Farms” has been listed for sale by Miller and James Real Estate of Temora and Johnston Rural Group of Forbes, to allow the Tooths to retire.
Their exit will end nearly 50 years of occupation since Bede’s father, Neville Tooth, bought the original “Yarranlea” farm as a finishing block in 1969 from Roy Woods.
The original “Yarranlea” comprised only about 600ha, but subsequent additions of the adjoining “Godden’s Plains” in 1993 and “Wyona” in 2002 brought the aggregation to its present size.
Situated 65 kilometres south-west of Forbes, bordering the northern end of Lake Cowal, “Yarranlea Farms” was managed for many years as a sheep property with some cattle and minor cropping, but today it is intensively farmed, with a focus on irrigation development.
Features of the design are two-metre beds, through-the-bank pipes, a high-capacity drainage and reuse system and a 700 megalitre storage dam designed to store river water and catch overland flows.
The property comes with a 1342 megalitre water entitlement, and has a history of growing a range of winter and summer cash crops, as well as fodder crops for livestock fattening.
Of the remaining (non-irrigated) area, about 1600ha is dryland cropping country, leased until the end of the year, and the balance grazing.
A new homestead, built by the present owners in 2003 to replace the former Woods residence, has four bedrooms, open-plan kitchen and living area, in-ground swimming pool and outdoor entertaining area.
Working structures include workshops, hay and machinery sheds, silos, shearing shed and sheep and cattle yards.