FAVOURABLE planting conditions, with good moisture levels and water allocations meant the 2021- 22 edition of the Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) and Syngenta Fast Start Cotton Establishment Awards was one of the most competitive on record.
The awards are held as a means of celebrating excellence in cotton crop establishment.
Each season a grower in both the dryland and irrigated category are awarded for the best overall establishment of their cotton crop, with this year's statistics a tangible record of how good the start to the season was, with excellent results achieved.
The winners of this year's dryland category were Will and Ben Coulton of Mullala, Boggabilla, NSW.
The Coultons achieved a Planter Uniformity Index (PUI) of 0.271 and 95.9 per cent establishment rate.
In the irrigated category the winner was north of the Tweed, with Terry Ryan of Milla-Lee, Bowenville, north-west of Toowoomba taking out the award.
Judges were impressed with his 0.034 PUI and 95.8 per cent establishment rate.
CSD extension and market development lead Peter White thanked all entrants in this year's awards, noting the overall high standard of those entrants, paying particular tribute to the winners.
"Achieving even establishment of a cotton crop requires attention to detail, which is where our winners this year shine," Mr White said.
"Not only have they given themselves the best chances of maximising their yields, they've won one of Australia's most prestigious crop competitions."
The Fast Start awards differ from other crop competitions in that they do not focus on yields.
Instead the awards emphasise crop establishment and the foundations for an efficient crop utilising tools such as the Fast Start cotton soil temperature network, helping to manage early season yield limiting impacts.
Planter uniformity and evenness of the emerging crop are two key criteria judges are on the lookout for when making their decisions.
Growers are encouraged to adjust their row configuration and seeding rates for optimum seedling performance as a foundation for better efficiency and eventually yield at the end of the season.
Mr Ryan was thrilled with the result.
"We have been growing cotton since 1988 and this is the first time we have entered into this competition since it's been running," he said.
"I feel a bit shocked, but excited and privileged to have won."
He said the tools offered, such as the temperature network and the field weather network were invaluable in assisting during the crop establishment phase.
Will Coulton said with dryland cotton, Mother Nature always played a big hand in establishment success but he also found the
Fast Start tools useful, particularly when optimising the planting window to ensure crops had the best chance of success.
"We are very appreciative of winning this award and grateful that the Fast Start program provides a means of rewarding growers who take the time to target the optimum planting window," Mr Coulton said.
"The increased yield potential we all aim for by getting the cotton off to a good start is the main objective, but it is nice to be acknowledged as we often don't take the time to look back and reflect on the start we had."
The awards were launched in 2018 and have featured a winning dryland and irrigated cotton grower each year since.
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