More than 1,000 growers planted 452,000 hectares of cotton across Australia’s cotton growing regions this season.
With more than 95 per cent of the crop planted to Monsanto’s Bollgard 3 varieties, growers have embraced the flexibility the technology gives to the industry.
The new extended planting window has seen cotton planted as late as December 2017 in western New South Wales and picking starting as early as January 2018 in central Queensland.
Monsanto Australia managing director Tony May welcomed the 156 new farmers growing cotton for the first time.
“Cotton has proved itself as a high value crop and a great industry to be a part of,” Mr May said.
“Growers are continuing to have a positive experience with Bollgard 3 Roundup Ready Flex cotton.”
The technology provides protection against pests and tough-to-control weeds whilst reducing broad spectrum pesticide sprays.
Proteins within the plant specifically target Heliothis moths, a primary cotton pest known to have destroyed crops.
Bollgard 3 cotton crops have inbuilt tolerance to Roundup Ready herbicides and when growers use targeted sprays in combination with cultivation and chipping they can maintain excellent weed control whilst reducing the risk of glyphosate resistance developing on farm.
Mr May said that the ongoing popularity of the technology demonstrates that it suits the current needs of the industry.
“This is the second season farmers in Australia have grown Bollgard 3,” he said.
“The world-first launch of the product last season put our industry strides ahead the rest of the world.
“With 95pc of the hectares grown this season to Bollgard 3, it shows growers continue to embrace the technology and live up to their reputation as highly innovative and cutting edge.”
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) recently forecast that cotton production in Australia is set to rise by 4pc this season.
Dry conditions resulted in an overall decrease in total hectares compared to last season, but above average rains in October 2017 have seen dryland plantings increase by more than previously expected.
“We saw 81,000 hectares of dryland cotton planted this year reflecting the value farmers place in the technology which allows them to delay the planting decision until after rainfall,” Mr May said.
“When it comes to irrigated cotton, we are seeing strong growth in hectares in the southern valleys of NSW.
“The Murrumbidgee region planted 67,304 hectares of cotton making it the biggest cotton growing region this season.
“In the past 8 years, the number of farms in Murrumbidgee growing cotton has increased from 52 to 244 - a clear demonstration of the strength and diversity of the industry.
“While there have been some challenges this season, the buoyancy and resilience of the industry should be celebrated.
“As the industry grows, we see great opportunities for cotton in the north and we look forward to supporting growers in places like the Ord as they venture into cotton.”