Toogoolawah farmer Mark Cowley, with CGS Dalby agronomist John Ash, with in his trial crop of cotton. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL
Toogoolawah farmer Mark Cowley, with CGS Dalby agronomist John Ash, with in his trial crop of cotton. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

Farmer defies critics with first cotton crop in 60+ years

IT'S not what you would expect to see in the Brisbane, paddocks of fluffy white cotton ready for picking.

But a third-generation Toogoolawah farmer has proved it is possible to grow cotton in southeast Queensland.

Mark Cowley picked the majority of his 14-hectare trial crop this week with the help of a contract picker from Goondiwindi.

"It's good to see it finished. It's a bit taller than normal, but that's a learning curve," Mr Cowley said.

So far, the crop has averaged about 10 bales a hectare, but exact weights and quality won't be revealed until the cotton is ginned.

 

CGS Dalby agronomist John Ash, with Toogoolawah farmer Mark Cowley, in his trial crop of cotton. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL
CGS Dalby agronomist John Ash, with Toogoolawah farmer Mark Cowley, in his trial crop of cotton. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

As for growing the cotton, it was a straight-forward process for Mr Cowley.

"It's doable to grow in this area. Everyone thinks I'm a lunatic, but you've got to go against the grain - it's all about your bottom line," he said.

"We want to do a bit more next year, just got to try and get hold of a bit more country," he said.

"We want to put it into our rotation."

It's been more than 60 years since cotton was grown in the Brisbane Valley.

The trial crop was supported by CSD Dalby and agronomist John Ash, who said growing cotton in the Brisbane Valley was achievable.

READ MORE: Toogoolawah farmer's plan to build cotton crop production

"The difference between here and other places where we grow cotton is how fast and vigorous it grows - the climate's a bit different," Mr Ash said.

"We've probably pushed the planting window a bit in this part of the world, compared to the downs."

He said weed control was the biggest issue, particularly in the early stages, until the crop had grown enough to cover the soil.

 

Badger the border collie takes a break in the cotton field. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL
Badger the border collie takes a break in the cotton field. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

Late rain in February also impacted the crop, which resulted in late bulbs and extra growth.

"We could probably improve on some of the management practices and get the yields up even better," Mr Ash said.

"But at this stage, the yields look good."

He said the plan for next season would be to grow a smaller, even crop, but expand the planting area.



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