The emerging cotton market in the NT – on farm decisions
The prospect of the impending announcement of a cotton gin in the NT has created enormous interest in this rain feed cropping system. Rodney Atkin-Smith, Elders Katherine Branch Manager and Carlos Rahme, Customer Solutions Manager discussed the challenges around growing cotton in the Northern Territory with one of Katherine’s leading cotton growers, Nick Black.
Carlos and Nick discussed strategies for maximising yield in an excellent crop of Sicot 748 cotton on Edith Spring Station. They looked at variety selection suited to Nick’s specific enterprise given the three main varieties cultivated in Katherine are Sicot 714B3F, 746B3F & 748B3F.
The two main decisions a grower needs to make to maximise yield is:
- which variety to grow; and
- flowering and cut out date.
Which variety to grow
The hardest decision a grower needs to make early in planning stage is determining what variety to grow that will complement the growing conditions for the season, often a crystal ball moment as it can be influenced heavily by weather.
This decision becomes more complex when you are growing a new crop in the area with minimal crop history and experience.
Carlos recommends the grower to consider growing two main varieties on the farm as climatic conditions do vary from season to season and variety performance will vary based on conditions. Variety split could be as simple as 50:50 or 60:40.
Flowering and cut out date.
The other major consideration to maximise yield is flowering and cut out date. The key to any perennial crop that is grown as an annual is to balance vegetative and generative actions of the plant.
In order to maximise yield potential of the crop based on the pre-scheduled harvest date was to work backwards from this date to determine last effective flower.
Given it takes around 60 days to mature a flower into a boll the grower needed to consider plant growth regulators (PGR) to slow the growth of the crop and divert carbohydrates to bolls for maturity. Understanding the rates and timings of a PGR is an art.
To determine a customised solution for your on farm questions please contact your local branch.