IN THE THICK OF IT: Aaron and Denis Kiely with Sam Dawson from Deneliza Downs kicked off the cotton picking season on Wednesday.
IN THE THICK OF IT: Aaron and Denis Kiely with Sam Dawson from Deneliza Downs kicked off the cotton picking season on Wednesday. Emma Boughen

Top yields expected

COTTON season is in full swing in Central Queensland as convoys of trucks carrying large round bales of the white fibre parade through town on their way to the gin.

While the early planting trials were harvested in January, the regular picking season has just begun.

Wednesday saw the start of the harvest on Deneliza Downs, owned by Denis and Liz Kiely, and will continue through until today.

"We chose the hottest three days in 2016 I reckon," Denis joked.

A total of 335ha of cotton was planted at the Emerald property in early September, and despite concerns the recent heavy rainfall would tarnish crops, Denis said things had dried out just in the nick of time.

"We had a very dry season, which is excellent for cotton, right up until about mid January," Denis said.

"Any cotton that was planted and opened seems to be very good."

A grin came across Denis' face when asked about the quality of his harvest.

"I'm feeling good," he said.

"The quality of the cotton looks excellent, the length and strength will be there, the only thing I was worried about was the colour but even that looks excellent."

This year will see Deneliza Downs' largest cotton crop in while as they only planted a small amount of cotton last year.

Depending on the weight of their bales, Denis expected to harvest about four or more bales per acre this year.

"We decided to go bigger with cotton this year because prices were good," he said.

Denis and his wife Liz have owned and operated Deneliza Downs for 28 years, after moving up to the Highlands from St George, where they also worked in cotton.

The family operation enlisted the help of their daughter and son-in-law Jodie and Sam Dawson, as well as son Aaron Kiely to harvest the crop.

Overall Deneliza Downs, which draws their water from the Weemah channel, has about 540ha under irrigation including 20ha of peanuts and 50ha of mungbeans, due for harvest in March.

The family also harvested about 120ha of corn, at 12 tonnes to the hectare in January.

Cotton Australia regional manager Renee Anderson said that crops planted late were still another three to four weeks away from harvest.

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