IN SPITE of attractive pricing for the fibre, Cotton Australia officials are predicting total Australian cotton production in 2019 will be less than half of this year.
Adam Kay, Cotton Australia managing director, said at this stage production for 2018-19 was tipped to weigh in at around 2.2 million bales, down from around 4.6 million bales last season.
Although there is a substantial cut, due to the dry conditions limiting dryland plantings and the competition from other summer crops, such as sorghum, which has attracted farmers due to its sky-high pricing, Mr Kay said cotton plantings were strong, given the season.
Sown area is expected to be well back, due to a lack of suitable paddocks and water.
“At this stage, it is forecast that at least half the area of cotton that was planted last year will be sown this season,” he said.
Mr Kay said the regard growers had for cotton was borne out by the fact it was being allocated water reserves and the best fallow to ensure strong yields and high quality.
He said farmers were managing the drought to the best of their ability.
“Droughts in Australia come and go, and it is in times like these - where water availability is lower - that our growers’ hard work around efficiency and sustainability, and their ability to manage their operations effectively to grow more crop per drop of water really comes to the fore,” he said.
Brendan Taylor, AgForce Queensland grains section president, said farmers were mainly saving cotton for their irrigated areas.
“There is some grown dryland in parts, but while it can be done, it has its problems.
“Firstly, cotton is really aggressive in targeting moisture so it leaves absolutely nothing for the following crop, while secondly you do not get the cover after it is harvested you get with other crops, and given the importance of water harvesting on stubbles that is influencing some people’s thinking regarding dryland cotton.”