Report Synopsis

Tropical Cotton Production Systems. Issues relevant to cotton production in Northern Australia

Luke McKay

Cotton is being assessed as a cropping option for Northern Australia, from the Gulf region of Northern Queensland, across the Northern Territory and to the Kimberley in Western Australia.

The objective of this report is to identify and discuss issues specific and relevant to cotton production in Northern Australia. In doing so the report discusses at length the in crop and area wide management of cotton.

While researching in Brazil, the most telling statement for this research was made:

“There is no recipe for tropical cotton, you must be in the crop, reading it and balancing its needs against the weather” (Eduardo Kawakami).

The key metrics of the crop are identified as the relationship between canopy, roots and fruit retention, the role and influence the weather has on these and on the key tools available to managers, being nitrogen management, plant growth regulant and irrigation, and how to use them to manipulate production.

Management responsibility does not stop at the farm gate and all growers play a role in the area-wide management of pests and resistance in a Northern cotton industry. Case studies from Brazil and the United States are used to compare what effect areawide regulation and approaches can have on farms and industry as a whole. Lessons are drawn from each and examples demonstrate what effect inadequate area wide management could have for a North Australian cotton industry and how effective IPM (Integrated Pest Management) could be as a solution.

The report makes recommendations to industry and potential growers. These recommendations are aimed at building on the base of information provided by previous R&D, identifying risks and contingency plans for pests and diseases and working collaboratively with other agricultural industries and traditional owners to progress agriculture across the entire region.

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