THE OWNERS of the Bollgard 3 cotton patent have reported a further 156 new cotton producers using the technology season as cotton expands its geographic reach further south.
Monsanto Australia managing director Tony May said over 450,000 hectares of cotton had been planted this season by more than 1000 growers.
Cotton was formerly not widely grown south of Dubbo but now the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area is the largest cotton producing region in Australia in terms of hectares planted.
Indeed, cotton is now rivalling rice, the Riverina’s traditional irrigated summer crop, in terms of hectares planted, especially as more and more Murray Valley growers embrace the fibre crop.
Mr May said Bollgard 3 varieties made up 95 per cent of total cotton plantings.
It is a vote of confidence in the technology, especially given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding marketing of cotton seed from Bollgard 3 cultivars.
China is currently not issuing shipping permits to allow cotton seed from Bollgard 3 varieties into the country.
Cotton seed generally accounts for around 15pc of growers’ income from the crop.
Monsanto confirmed the issue was still ongoing and could not provide a timeline for its resolution, however growers continue to flock to the Bollgard 3 technology.
Agronomic improvements allowing greater rotational flexibility, including a longer planting window, have been particularly popular with producers.
Monsanto said cotton was now planted as late as December in parts of western NSW, just weeks before the 2017-18 harvest began in January in central Queensland.
Following a tough time for cotton last season due to a searing summer in key production zones such as northern NSW, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has flagged a 4pc year on year lift in total cotton lint production in spite of a drop in hectares planted.