End in sight for late harvest
THE Emerald Cotton Gin is coming to the business end of the busiest season it has experienced in a decade.
In what has been a drawn out season, Queensland Cotton’s Rick Jones said he could not remember a year when farmers were still picking so late into winter.
“It has been a very unusual season,” Mr Jones said.
“It’s probably as big a year as we have seen in 10 years, but then again, most growers are probably just happy to have gotten through this season and will now be looking forward to the next with optimism.”
Mr Jones said the floods and heavy rain knocked the confidence out of many growers in the region, but the quality issues suffered through water inundation were not prevalent in the later crop.
He said growers had grown crops for longer than normal due to suffering at the hands of torrential weather earlier on.
“The dry land crop has been very good, with strong prices and good yields,” Mr Jones said.
“While I would probably say the irrigation crop has been a disappointing in this area.”
The planting window for the 2011-2012 season opens in late September with most of the crop expected to be in the ground by late November.
Last Wednesday, Cotton Australia announced the industry was gearing up for a record-breaking crop for a second year running, with more than 583,000ha expected to be planted, making it the largest cotton crop ever planted in the country.
CA chief executive Adam Kay said with good water availability and a favourable seasonal outlook, the cotton crop will be around 80,000ha larger than the previous record set by this year’s crop.
On a sadder note, staff at the Emerald Cotton Gin were mourning the loss of long-time employee Graham Dunkley, who suffered a heart attack at work and died last Tuesday.
Mr Dunkley was coming up to 30 years with the Gin.
In what could be described as a horror week, another employee, Jeff “Strawb” Rowlings, suffered a stroke on Thursday and is in rehabilitation in Brisbane.
“Our thoughts are with both the Dunkleys and the Rowlings,” Mr Jones said.
“We wish Strawb a speedy recovery.”
Meanwhile, the annual Central Queensland Cotton Growers and Irrigators Industry Dinner Dance will be held tonight at the Emerald Town Hall.
In what is traditionally a night when growers come together to finalise the passing season and recognise achievements, the Dinner Dance will this year recognise those badly affected by floods.
“This year it is even more important to show support and recognise the efforts of many growers,” Cotton Growers Association President Cameron Geddes said.
“People stuck in there over what can be described as a very tough season, and it will be nice to give them their due.”
Mr Geddes said he would be looking forward to next season with renewed optimism.