Quirindi-district farmer Scott McInnes, Eastview, has turned back time with borrowed boll buggies and module builders and a recently purchased four-row picker to help pick his cotton crop.
The 2016-17 season was the last time Mr McInnes grew cotton, and it was after picking that crop he sold his cotton machinery, including pickers, module builders and other support machinery.
However, after not sowing a winter crop in 2021, he added cotton back into his summer crop rotation along with sorghum planting.
The result was 230 hectares of skip row cotton. Only 60ha was in irrigation country, and it only received one watering; such was the reliability of the summer season.
"It was a perfect opportunity to plant the cotton, soil moisture was fantastic, and prices were quite good," he said.
Had weather conditions remained dry, the cotton round baler Mr McInnes' contractor provided would have been able to get his crop picked, but the wet autumn and the forecast of a wet remainder of the year forced his hand to buy his own picker.
"I saw the picker on Marketplace in Gunnedah and snavelled it up," he said.
"Its cost was equal to the yellow plastic wrap I'd bought for the round bale contract picker.
"The machine I bought is a reasonably late model picker; it's an excellent machine.
"All I had to do was drive it three-and-a-half hours home from Gunnedah.
"I thought I am just going to do it, and it has been good because I can get some crop off while waiting for the round bale picker to come back."
Mr McInnes said his cotton gin at Carroll had no concerns about delivering cotton in modules.
"He couldn't care whether it came in triangles, he told me," Mr McInnes quipped.
"There are still plenty of people doing it this way. Go out along the Breeza Plain you will see people that still harvest their cotton into modules.
"With the ongoing wet weather, the round-balers are so far behind, and I didn't think twice about getting another picker again even though I had all that machinery three years ago and then sold it.
"I'm just not one to sit back and wait, and I get pretty impatient.
"I enjoy doing it with the picker, and it's not for a considerable cost, the same as what I'd spent on the yellow plastic wrap, which will be thrown away or recycled after the bales have been processed.
"I am hoping to see my contractor come back. I didn't buy this machine to do my entire crop.
"If no one turns up, I'll keep going until they do".
Mr McInnes said the picker and module builder are more labour intensive than a round baler, and labour shortages are adding concerns.
He said his mate, Justin Roach from Tamworth, was able to come down and assist by driving the boll buggy front the picker back to the module builder.
"My main employee is working on the (module) builder, and it's all new to him. He'd never done it before.
Mr McInnes said he grew up at Goondiwindi working on the cotton pick using a module builder after leaving college.
He said only 7mm was recorded in the most recent rainfall, and he hoped to be back on his country soon.
"There's a heck of a lot more cotton out there to be picked, and they are waiting for pickers to return from up north.
"I'm hoping for a month of fine weather so we can all get on top of our cotton picking," he said.
Growing corn for silage for the Killara feedlot is his property's primary 'breadwinner'.
Mr McInnes plants about 100ha of silage corn, which yields between 60 and 70 tonnes of chopped material/ha, with a moisture content of about 68 to 70 per cent.
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