Season of heartbreak for growers

THE moral fibre of Emerald cotton growers has been sorely tested in a season described by an industry overseer as “heartbreaking”.

Queensland Cotton chief executive officer Richard Haire said 40 per cent of the crops had been wiped out by rain.

He estimated grower losses of $22.5 million, with a six-fold multiplier effect in terms of the impact on the local economy.

“It's been heartbreaking really to be honest, because up until January you would probably say the Central Queensland crop, and in particular Emerald, was looking as good as anything ever grown,” he told the Central Queensland News.

“Then we had that torrential rain in February and unfavourable weather, and it just turned on its head, and while it hasn't been as devastating as in Theodore and Moura, it's still demoralising.

“We think yields in the Emerald area are on average down by 40 per cent, but thatdoesn't state the severity of those poor buggers who were really hit.

“And we're looking at 50,000 bales in terms of a loss.

“… it's heartbreaking for Emerald growers to have nurtured their crops through and to have invested blood, sweat and tears, not to mention money, to see it ripped out from under them like this.”

Mr Haire said local growers had every right to feel despondent, as they started the season with full water allocations.

Emerald, he added, was the only region in the state confident of having enough water to get its crops home.

With harvesting winding down, Queensland Cotton has begun classing bales.

Mr Haire said initial results showed the cotton was 15-20 per cent colour-affected.

The other summer scourge that impacted on growers, the discovery of the solenopsis mealybugs in the region for the first time, will be monitored over winter. A set of recommended control options will be drafted for growers before the 2010/11 season.

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