Season starts to sprout

IN THE FIELD: Sealy Farmer, John Reeves, Paul Yates and John Hegeman at Lochiel, Emerald, planting early season cotton.
IN THE FIELD: Sealy Farmer, John Reeves, Paul Yates and John Hegeman at Lochiel, Emerald, planting early season cotton. Renee Anderson

CENTRAL Highlands growers have cottoned-on to a good thing, seizing the opportunity to use the early planting window.

Only a few weeks since the last of the previous seasons' cotton crops were harvested, local growers were back on the ground on planting on Tuesday.

Cotton Australia Central Highlands regional manager Renee Anderson said this year, around 17,500 hectares of cotton would be planted in the region.

"There were a few growers already planting this week,” Ms Anderson said.

"Just over two thirds of growers in the Central Highlands will grow early to the middle of the season while one third will go late in the season.

"Overall, there are a few more planting early this year.”

The ability to plant early in the season is due to Bollgard 3, now in its second year of use in the region.

The seed is a third- generation product containing a protein which improves the stability of insect control.

Last season the extended planting window brought positive results for cotton in the region, with the last of the dryland cotton harvested last week.

"The quality that came out of Central Highlands was excellent,” Ms Anderson said.

"There were lots of 11s and 21s - lots of white, bright, clean cotton.

"The yields are a mixed bag depending on when they planted but the majority of growers have done really well.

"The early planted cotton has done exceptionally well,” she said.

"Overall, growers got about 10-and-a-half up to 12-and-a-half bales per hectare, with late growers a bit more variable, with the average around the 9-and-a-half bales per hectare.”

Ms Anderson said the various planting options allowed flexibility for growers throughout the region.

"The early-to-mid season planting gives growers good stability and the ability to do two different summer crops in one year,” she said.

"For the later-planted cotton, it gives growers the option to plant on really good rainfall.”

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