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Promising cotton harvest

Manager of Wirricanna and Prattenvile irrigation farms Magnus Mostert on left, with owner Tony Thompson in a promising crop at Prattenville. Photo TWH

After almost three years without income, cotton farmers across the Bourke and Brewarrina shires are hopeful this year will bring a change of fortunes.

Rain, and a reasonable flow down the Barwon Darling river early last year, have meant a cotton crop will be ready for harvest within weeks.

And although not back to full production, the industry is now supporting hundreds of jobs in the Bourke and Brewarrina districts, and the future looks promising,

Bourke-based Clyde Cotton Manager John Ellis said after a successful irrigated winter crop, the summer crop was now looking very promising, and it may even yield above the long-term average.

“It’s been an interesting sort of year – a lot of niggling insect pressure and we can’t spray chemicals or insecticides on some areas, so we have to keep that to a minimum, and that’s a challenge.

“In terms of water, the last irrigation on the cotton crop will probably go on at Beemery around February 20.

“We haven’t been allowed to pump and the new regulations make the Barwon Darling, in my view, a regulated river given all the protocols we have to go through to be able to irrigate.

“Having stored water this year means the crop is looking very good,” he said.

A raft of regulations has added to the pressure on irrigators.

“They are a bit onerous,” Mr Ellis said, “and I get a bit fed up with people downstream who think the world stops at Bourke. If there’s no rain and there’s no water in the river, there’s not much you can do about that,” he said.

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