Cotton Stories

Forward-selling adding certainty to growing cotton

26 Jun 2018
Agronomist Dean Andrighetto has seen a rapid increase in cotton grown in the southern NSW region.

The ability to forward-sell bales of cotton throughout the season has assisted growers in southern New South Wales to switch to the crop as a viable summer option.

Agronomist Dean Andrighetto of Yenda Producers in Griffith, said the hectares of cotton in the region had increased in recent years.

“One of the main drivers for switching to cotton, or partly to cotton, has been price. The ability to forward-sell really has a big advantage,” he said.

“Being able to forward-sell really hedges your risk. There was a bit of uncertainty with some other crops which led us to go partly into cotton this season. The expansion of the gins in the area has also really given people more confidence to jump into cotton.

“There are now gins at Whitton, Carrathool and Hay,” he said.

Mr Andrighetto said cotton had been a mainstream crop in the area for around a decade but its popularity has increased rapidly in recent years.

“In the last three to four years it has really jumped away. That’s been driven by yields and good prices.

“Yield is king and with cotton it’s no different.  It is all about timing and good management and the rest is up to the weather. Try to do everything right and pay attention to detail.”

He said there was a lot of advice and information available to growers thinking about moving into cotton.

“For anyone looking to grow cotton, preparation is key. You have to do your research, talk to your neighbours, talk to people that have grown it for a few years. They'll know what works well and what doesn't work well.

“Everything has to be spot on with cotton, with your hills or beds and planting. Timing is probably most important and getting the right advice from your agronomist, your consultants.”

“You need to give cotton more attention than many other crops but if you are going to put the crop in you've got to be prepared to follow through with it."

Cotton is grown in conjunction with rice on the Andrighetto family farm just outside Griffith and was planted on September 29 last season.

A starter fertiliser was used and nitrogen needs determined from soil tests after the previous rice or winter crops.

“Irrigation-wise, we are using moisture probes to time waterings right,” Mr Andrighetto said. “This is heavy ground so it can hang on a fair bit, so the probes really help us out in telling us what we need to do.”

He said the water use of cotton would be a little less than rice but it was important to look at irrigation as a whole system.

“It is not uncommon to have rice and cotton on the same farm. On this farm, for instance, we can drain the cotton water into the rice so we are saving, effectively double saving, on the water."

Irrigation layouts play a major role in being able to switch from one crop to the other.

“Bankless channel layouts are the most flexible. You can really grow whatever you want, depending on the conditions at the time and prices, your attitude to your risk and water availability."

He said while cotton is more expensive to grow than rice, the rewards are also there.

“There is a potential upside in cotton, probably more upside than any other crop."