DRY TIMES: Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association president Aaron Kiely preparing soil at his property for cotton.
DRY TIMES: Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association president Aaron Kiely preparing soil at his property for cotton. Kristen Booth

Cotton planting begins in CQ, amid low water supply

DESPITE extremely low water allocations for this season, Central Highland growers are remaining positive.

Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association President Aaron Kiely spoke on behalf of 40 growers and 50 associate members in the group, stating they were well prepared.

Membership is comprised of grower/irrigator members who grow crops that include cotton, mungbeans, soybeans, sunflowers, chickpeas, wheat, grapes, melons, and citrus.

Associate members include product resellers, bankers, agronomists, consultants, contractors, ginners, merchants and researchers.

"Growers remain optimistic about early rainfall to produce inflow into the dam which could lead to an increase in announced allocation,” Mr Kiely said.

"There is no significant spring rainfall predicted at this stage.”

The announced allocation from Fairbairn Dam has been "very reliable over a number of years” which irrigators are hopeful will continue, he said.

"SunWater had been providing projected allocation updates in the lead-up to the end of the water year,” Mr Kiely said.

"Growers were expecting a reduced allocation and planned their production accordingly.”

Cotton is a main source grown in the region, along with citrus and macadamias which have recently expanded in the region.

Planting for cotton began this week, Mr Kiely said.

"Growers have the opportunity to plant cotton until the end of December,” he said.

"While the cotton plant has begun, there is still plenty of field preparation happening for the upcoming season.

"There will be reduced cotton planting hectares in the region as a result of the lower announced allocation.”

This year will be a stark comparison to successful previous seasons, Mr Kiely added.

"Last season saw some excellent yield and quality results across the area,” he said.

"This was the result of favourable weather conditions and a pleasing cotton price.”

He said other growers are working out their plans on what they will do this year.

"Growers are making decisions to reflect the current allocation, however they arfe still preparing for opportunities throughout the coming season,” Mr Kiely said.

"They will be making planting decisions based on their announced allocation and their carry over water from the previous season.

"Growers will still be prepared for planting opportunities later in the season should there be a local rainfall event or inflow into the Fairbairn Dam.

"There is no doubt that irrigators will be hoping for a wet start to the spring/summer season.”


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