Cotton Management Tour offers seed for thought

30 July, 2018

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The 2018 CSD Cotton Management Tour (CMT) is on its’ final leg this week, with the CSD Extension & Development team heading down south after 12 meetings across Queensland and New South Wales in recent weeks, where over 500 growers, agronomists and industry supporters have attended to date. Kicking off in Central Queensland in June, the CMT meetings have proven to be a great forum for discussion around the season in review and variety performance using data from local trials as well as the Ambassador Network sites across the industry.

Each meeting is presented by the local E&D Agronomist, and supported by the local CottonInfo Regional Extension Officer, with the aim of helping growers make sense of seasonal conditions and the impact this has had on crop performance. The meetings also discussed the findings around this year’s Ambassador Network, with the introduction of the G x E x M (Genetics x Environment x Management) program looking into the interaction of the three factors and how they interact on the performance of the Australian cotton varieties.

The launch of the new FastStartTM cotton website (in collaboration with Syngenta) was a particular point of interest, with a number of resources and tools to assist growers and consultants with the early stages of crop development (up until flowering). An example of this is the new FastStartTM cotton accreditation course, which aims to equip advisors and growers with the principles and tools for best practice cotton establishment.

CSD have also launched the new Industry Support Program (formerly the Dryland Production Protection Package) – a new name but the same dollar for dollar seed credit in the following season if the crop is determined to not be pickable and is ploughed in (excluding crop removed through hail damage).

Growers were also updated on the changes around the CSD Grower Agreements as well as the new varieties that will be available in the coming season.

Dr Warwick Stiller, CSIRO provided an update on the latest in plant breeding, with an insight on the timeframes required to bring a new variety or trait to market. Disease tolerance was a hot topic, and Warwick’s video on plant breeding and have placed some confidence in the material that will be brought forward in a few years to show some increased tolerance levels to these issues.

So what did we learn from this year? There were issues around fibre quality and yield. Each valley had a large spread and there was no one thing that contributed to either high or low results. The G x E x M research over the next few years will help to answer with confidence some of these questions.

Some valleys had issues with Verticillium wilt, while others had issues with Black Root Rot. Alterneria showed up a number of times throughout the season, but there were less issues from growers who were proactive with the management of this disease. Variety selection had an influence on these diseases with the management of irrigation, paddock selection (e.g. back to back) and nutrition all contributing to the severity of these diseases.

Growers now have a choice of variety selection. It’s not just a one fit variety to cover all areas and all situations. Each meeting discussed how the selection of these new varieties will have a fit in different situation and environments, giving them a better and wider choice to overcome local constraints.

Finally, completing operations on time was once again the key factor that contributed to good yields.

By Jorian Millyard – Extension & Development Regional Manager for NSW