Cotton Stories

First cotton crop planted in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley in 22 years

13 Apr 2021
Mitch Brimblecomb and Chris Barry.jpg
Mitch Brimblecombe, Moira Farming and Chris Barry, CSD

First cotton crop planted in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley in 22 years

The Lockyer Valley might be known as Queensland’s ‘salad bowl’, but the Brimblecombe family of Moira Farming at Forest Hill have been exploring opportunities with cotton.

Farm Manager, Mitch Brimblecombe’s grandfather Alan was a pioneering cotton grower for forty years, but since the late 1990s, the family business has focused primarily on vegetables and grain.

“We’re a mixed cropping operation,” explains Mitch.

“We predominantly grow horticultural crops – corn, beans, broccoli, onions, carrots but also some grain and fodder.”

After closely observing other demonstration trials in the region, Mitch saw the potential for cotton as a substitute for sorghum in his rotation this season.

“Here in the Lockyer Valley, we’ve been in drought for a little while now. We haven’t been capturing fresh water, which we’re dependent on to grow our horticultural crops,” said Mitch.

“We do have salt water available in our bores, and we needed a salt-tolerant crop to utilise that water. We know that cotton is salt tolerant; and that was our main reason we decided to try cotton this year.”

With agronomy support from Cotton Grower Services (CGS) and Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD), Mitch is growing forty hectares of irrigated cotton and ten hectares of dryland cotton with the variety Sicot 748B3F.

Moira Farming is also part of CSD’s variety trial program, testing the suitability of different varieties for their production system.

“A fair bit of research went into planning our first crop. We worked quite closely with the crew at CGS, CSD and also Bayer; so it’s just been great having that guidance throughout the whole season.

Mitch says he has been impressed with the open and transparent nature of the cotton industry.

“Going into the cotton season, I didn’t comprehend how open the whole industry is for sharing information.”

Agronomically and operationally, Mitch has found cotton to be a great fit into his farm rotation.

“Irrigating the cotton has been quite an easy transition for us; we’re using the same infrastructure that we’re using for our other crops.

“The pest control hasn’t been too bad at all – Bollgard® 3 has really taken care of that for us. The only thing we’ve needed to spray for is a few mirids.

“Our business is quite a labour intensive business and having cotton doesn’t draw away from our horticultural labour demand.

And with final yields ranging from 10.7 to 12.7 bales per hectare (irrigated), it’s been a positive experience for Mitch.

“It’s certainly a crop I’d recommend to other growers in the Lockyer Valley.”