Hold on a second!
Are you telling me a south west Queensland cattle producer moved to the Banana Shire and became an irrigated crop farmer, then a Cyclone called Debbie brought him vital rain and flood water on April Fool’s Day for his struggling cotton crop?
It may sound like we’re having a laugh with you, but it’s a true story about Rohan Hindle and his decision to take on a new challenge.
Some thought Mr Hindle was joking when he told them he’s changing from being a cattle producer to an irrigated crop farmer.
Well, jokes on those who doubted him with April Fool’s Day this year delivering rain and a vital flood water harvest that enabled the family to perfectly finish-off their first ever irrigated cotton crop.
Rohan’s decision to relocate with his wife Suzie and their three children was made with plenty of careful planning.
But now it seems plain-old good luck and hard work has paid-off since the Hindle family took on the challenge of relocating to a property called Bungaree near Theodore at the start of 2016.
“We were chasing a bit of consistency and reliability and the irrigation seemed to offer that,” Mr Hindle said.
“When the Bungaree property came up with a bit of reliable irrigation we saw it as a great opportunity.”
In total the property has 280 hectares of irrigated farming country with 170 hectares planted this year to a late cotton crop during November and early December.
“When we first moved here it already had an irrigated chickpea crop planted and we had a successful harvest with them in November last year,” Mr Hindle said.
“We were thinking of planting mungbeans, but the good cotton prices and new Bollgard 3 variety attracted us to cotton.
“It was a bit of a late decision to go with a cotton crop and we knew there could be a shortage of water, so we decided to go with a single skip planting configuration.”
Mr Hindle said it turned out to be a very tight year for water harvesting from the local Dawson River.
“Also, the heat waves during January and February negatively impacted the cotton crop and combined with tight water supply our outlook for the crop wasn’t great,” he said.
“The cotton crop started to shut down and it was difficult to get it going again, especially with the limited water supply.
“We only had 17 millimeters of in-crop rain.”
That all changed on April 1 with ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie bringing 105mm of rain across the cotton crop, plus a run in the Dawson River allowing the Hindle family to buy new water allocations.
“We planted the crop late hoping for some summer rainfall but it turned out to be one of the driest October to March periods in Theodore’s history.
“Now our cotton crop has taken-off and flowering again, which is a big turn around from before April Fool’s Day.”
Mr Hindle said it’s difficult to estimate the cotton crop potential yield this year, but the good rainfall and water supply has turned a very tough situation into a far more positive harvest outlook.