FOR COLEAMBALLY, NSW, cotton producers Trent and Chris Gardiner, a drop in cottonseed revenue would be unwelcome but would not be the catalyst for dropping the crop from their rotation.
The Australian cottonseed industry is facing uncertainty following the news China is yet to approve imports of cottonseed from varieties with the genetically modified (GM) Bollgard 3 trait.
“We grow the crop for the lint, and about 85pc of the revenue comes from that side of it,” Trent Gardiner said.
“If we harvest a 10 tonne to the hectare crop, around 80pc of the volume is from lint, with around 2t/ha of cottonseed.”
He said prices were around $315/t for cottonseed as opposed to around $500/t.
Mr Gardiner said the farm business plan was to try and get the cottonseed to cover ginning costs.
“It is cream on the top, if we can cover our ginning costs from the cottonseed then we are more than happy.”
He said cottonseed prices had risen in recent years, making it a more important part of the overall crop.
“Prices were around $180/t a couple of years ago, so we have seen low prices before,” he said.
“Lower cottonseed prices based on an inability to export to China would hurt growers, but I don’t think it would be the sole consideration for anyone growing cotton or not.”
“This issue is probably likely to be a bigger issue for the exporters with contracts in place to China than for producers, although we obviously don’t want anything that brings gross margins down.”
Mr Gardiner said Bollgard 3 varieties had performed well in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA).
The most prized varietal trait in the emerging cotton producing region, one of the most southern in Australia, is short season maturity.
“We had the choice between two lines, one promised another 0.3 bales per hectare, the other finished quicker, and with an $80 a bale discount for discolouration, it is a no brainer you’d choose the variety that allows you to harvest earlier rather than a small yield boost.”