DISCOVERING the climate south of Forbes is almost identical to Darlington Point, Customised Farm Management (CFM) agronomist, Richard Malone, recommended cotton production on 300 hectares of the 650ha irrigation development at “Bergen Park”, Forbes.
CFM manages the recently purchased property in the final stages of settlement on behalf of an investor and with water and cotton the present drivers for best return per megalitre, cotton is the best economic option.
“But staple alternatives of canola, wheat and barley will also be grown in the irrigated rotation,” Mr Malone said.
This is the first cotton crop on “Bergen Park” utilising the Jemalong Irrigation Scheme.
New Bollgard III technology was planted on October 11 after redevelopment of the fields from border check to siphon irrigation.
“We have unfortunately experienced some herbicide spray drift shortly after the new year, but at current levels it should not compromise yield unless affected again,” Mr Malone said.
After inspecting the crop on Wednesday, Mr Malone predicts the crop to yield at least 10 to 12 bales/ha.
Water makes cotton best bet
Best economic returns this summer for irrigated crops sits directly with cotton.
According to Monsanto Australia’s southern region business manager, Luke Sampson, growers looking for a high value crop can’t go past cotton, as it ticks all the boxes.
In the Murrumbidgee Valley the two main options were cotton and rice, and after weighing them up, Mr Sampson said some growers had chosen cotton as the best return per megalitre.
This year 452,000 hectares is growing across the three eastern states, with NSW accounting for some 350,000ha.
“Overall, crops are looking good and on track for an average yield,” he said. They had a mixed start, but began fruiting quite early and came into flower on time, so all going well in the next three months, we should have an average result.”
The money market on Tuesday quoted returns of $555 per bale, a fair rise since planting.
With 244 farms growing 67,304ha the Murrumbidgee is the biggest region this season, Mr Sampson said.
“The Gwydir came in second at about 62,000ha, (but has) generally been the biggest valley over the years. Due to not having full water, the Murrumbidgee has pipped it this year.”
Mr Sampson said in 2010 some 52 farms grew 16,249ha, but this year a lot of growth had come from the Colleambally area and back towards Griffith.
“Cotton acreage in the Lachlan Valley has grown from 6872ha off 24 farms in 2010 to 18,358ha on 51 farms this season and the Murray Valley has also seen some growth starting at 1478ha in 2015 to total 4440ha with double the number of farms at 28 this year.”
The Forbes region had made a good contribution to the Lachlan Valley’s increased cotton production.
A first-time crop at “Bergen Park”, south of Forbes on the Jemalong Irrigation Scheme, is growing 300ha and showing good potential at this stage.
Managing the property’s operations is Customised Farm Management with agronomist, Richard Malone, saying he is excited about the Jemalong Irrigation Scheme.
“”I think it is underutilised at the moment, but the scheme’s good soils and climate lend to a wide range of irrigated crop options.”
Narromine agronomist, Campbell Muldoon, Muldoon Pratten AG Consultants, said crops were on track for good yields.
“We’ve had cloudless skies although heat has been a bit extreme, but generally most growers are keeping the water up to the crops well. The dry winter has held back insect pressure this season and fruiting had started down low and plants have fruited up quite nicely.
“Some crops are now getting close to cut-out and well on track for a normal year.”