A hail storm on Christmas Eve is estimated to have written off about $6 million worth of cotton in southern Queensland.
St George agronomist John Mulholland said the storm looked to have damaged about 1,200 hectares of crop across nine farms. He said the thumb-sized hail had torn through the cotton at a delicate stage of production. "A lot of it was in the peak flowering range and up to 23 nodes, the oldest of it I suppose," he said. "It just tore it to shreds. I know one bloke had all of his [cotton crop] written off, so that is not the greatest Christmas present."
Mulholland said most of the growers he had been in contact with had crop insurance. "It never seems to be as good as growing a crop yourself," he said. "But at least they will be able to plant another crop behind it, if they can get on the country and possibly plant a few mungbeans or sorghum. "Mungbeans are reasonably quick and they are a good price at the moment and as far as inputs go, fertiliser and things, there is not a lot of work to do coming straight in behind the cotton … so they are probably a good option."
Mulholland said the storm also had delivered some handy rainfall. "I have heard of anything from about 21mm in the irrigation area up to 120mm up towards the border near Mungindi," he said. "So there is quite a varied total but it is a great start. If we can get another follow-up in the next couple of weeks it would be even better."