Cotton harvest picks up in Central Highlands

PICKING UP THE PACE: Harvesting at Emerald’s Kerry Downs in action.
PICKING UP THE PACE: Harvesting at Emerald’s Kerry Downs in action. Kelly Butterworth

IT'S the time of year when the Central Highlands' roads become lined with cotton bolls, as harvesting kicks off around the region.

Cotton Australia Central Highlands regional manager Renee Anderson said the region's 11,000ha of cotton planted for the 2014-15 season was less than half of the average planted area.

"Some cotton growers in the area have opted to supplement with alternative crops this season in order to maximise the efficiency of water available to them," Mrs Anderson said.

Mrs Anderson's own farm, Kerry Downs, began picking earlier this week.

She said local growers hoped the weather remained dry and bright.

"The ideal weather for harvesting is clear blue skies and dry conditions during the day and into the evening... rainfall at picking time can unfortunately damage the crop," Mrs Anderson said.

"Growers use moisture meters on their pickers to ensure they are harvesting in suitable conditions.

"Most growers have had a fairly good season this year, and are hopeful for above-average yields."

Mrs Anderson said the Central Highlands did encounter a few hotter than usual days during December with overcast weather conditions which resulted in some fruit shedding, however growers seemed to be relatively happy with their crops.

"The length of the harvest season is really weather-determined," she said.

"If it stays clear over the next few weeks, picking will be finished around the middle of March."

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