Positive step into cotton for Dunedoo grower14 Aug 2018
A first try at cotton as a crop has been a success for Brett Yeo, who farms at Dunedoo, in Central West New South Wales.
Dunedoo is not a traditional cotton growing area, but with good prices and advances in technology in recent years, Mr Yeo and his neighbour decided to grow the crop last season.
“The economics did attract me,” he said. “But we were also running into weed problems with our cereal crops with shatter-cane and grass weeds that we didn't seem to be beating with rotations of beans.
Mr Yeo said growing Roundup Ready Flex cotton has helped him get on top of these weed problems.
The ability to be able to harvest the cotton crop was a concern for Mr Yeo but the area grown between him and a neighbour were enough to attract a cotton picker contractor to the area.
A larger combined area also meant they could get the relevant assistance from cotton agronomy experts and companies.
Mr Yeo said another concern was the potential for herbicide spray drift from other properties in the area.
Cotton is a sensitive plant to a number of products used in other cropping systems and the potential for spray drift was addressed with good communications leading up to Mr Yeo’s decision to grow.
“I spoke to all the neighbours that I could,” he said. “I also spoke to other irrigators in the area on the pros and cons and communicated as openly as we could. We conducted two grower meetings before we planted.”
Mr Yeo had existing irrigation infrastructure although the switch to cotton did mean a closer look at his pivots to maximise their use.
"With water use, I think it probably made us switch on,” he said. “We made sure we had good maintenance on our pivots.”
He said ground preparation was similar to what he would do for corn.
Dunedoo is located 100 kilometres east of the more established cotton growing areas and has traditionally been cooler in summer.
“We've been very concerned about that, whether we would get the heat units,” Mr Yeo said. “This year we had a warm start to October and it allowed us to plant in mid-October. November cooled down, we were frost free but the plants were very slow.”
As the season progressed, the cotton grew well and by early March the agronomist was quite comfortable with where the crop was at, even suggesting it was ahead of schedule.
The cotton variety planted was a shorter season variety than those used in more western areas.
Mr Yeo said it was really positive to connect with people throughout the cotton industry.
“I was told about the positive atmosphere in the cotton industry,” he said. “It is marvellous connecting with other growers. It is much more forthcoming than most traditional areas of farming and I’ve really enjoyed that.”
Mr Yeo’s cotton crop needed just two insecticide sprays for sucking insects across the season with Bollgard 3 technology effectively controlling Helicoverpa caterpillars.