In the battle against verticillium wilt, a number of North West cotton growers have turned to corn in an attempt to alleviate disease pressure, and it has paid off in spades.
Following favourable sowing conditions, Merced Farming, Wee Waa, has had a promising start to the season after planting 600 hectares of P1756 and P1837 for the first time in more than a decade.
Merced Farming operations manager Sam Kahl said the aim was to improve soil health, chemistry diversity and seasonal workload.
"On our previous farms, verticillium wilt wasn't a huge issue, however, we purchased a neighbouring property, White Acres, which I like to call the vert capital of Australia," he said.
"The cotton was pretty badly effected by vert on White Acres this year until we got to where the previous owners had grown a pigeon pea refuge and it went from eight bales to 12.5.
"We can beat the vert, which is why we'll have a fairly serious regular corn rotation of roughly 200ha on there."
For Jack Maunder, Trenton, Baan Baa, adding corn into his summer rotation six years ago was a no brainer.
"Initially our agronomist suggested that we go into it because we were having a few disease issues with cotton and it has definitely improved our fields," he said.
This year, Mr Maunder planted 50ha of P8037 on August 24 at a depth of 7.6 centimetres in flood irrigation.
A further 20ha was also planted 10 days later into an N-drip irrigation system which has since shown promising results.
"Normally I would plant corn on September 10 and cotton on October 10 but the conditions were really good so I planted both crops two weeks early," he said.
"Everything looks really good, especially the crop planted in the N-drip system as it has just overtaken the stuff I planted earlier."
Mr Maunder said corn has improved his water efficiency and management.
"We're predominately ground water so it makes it easier to split up," he said.
"At the moment the corn is going into a seven day cycle on the flood irrigation, and depending on the heat we'll get down to five days in December.
"With early storms you can grow a 15 tonne corn crop on about five megalitres of water which is really where the bang for buck is for me.
"Corn is just as cost and water effective as cotton at the end of the day, especially if you can push 18 tonne per ha which which we are doing here."
Agronomist Steve Madden, Wee Waa, said the benefits of corn are seen in the next cotton crop.
"More often than not cotton is more profitable than corn, but corn makes the next cotton crop more profitable as it increases yield and reduces disease," he said.
Michael Maxwell, Tulladunna, Wee Waa, planted 43ha of P1756 on September 10 at a depth of two inches would like to achieve a yield of 17 tonnes per ha.
Mr Maxwell, who has grown cotton since 1981, implemented corn into his rotation three years ago to improve yield and control disease.
"If we don't keep our cotton yield up the farm's profit will go down so we're focused on this long term," he said.
"We've used sorghum and canola in the past to slow down verticillium wilt, but at this stage corn has more upside profit wise than sorghum."
"While it will take time to see if the corn works, we gained a bale an acre above our normal rotation last year."