A wet season that brought 1200 millimetres of rain, or 100mm a week from planting at Christmas time to the end of March was a real challenge for the Findley family's fledgling Gulf Cotton enterprise at Julia Creek.
Some 1000mm fell in crop at Etta Plains, which Lucas Findley said was extremely hard to deal with from an agronomical point of view and the biggest year he could find on record for that part of the region.
"Average annual rainfall for the same time period is closer to 350-400mm," he said. "In saying that, we were happy with how the plant responded and with the experiences learnt, could absolutely manage that rainfall if it was a normal occurrence."
To put the rain into perspective, over the past three to four big wet years, southern growing regions had anywhere from 350-450mm of rain from October through the growing season to March.
Mr Findley said while it took time to learn a new system in a new environment, they were as confident as they ever had been in the potential of both irrigated and rainfed cotton.
"People like to talk about water up in the region, but the biggest potential is the broadacre rainfed industry," he said.
"The irrigation industry brings the expertise to the region, as well the investment of gins, chemical companies and grain handling facilities.
"Once these are in place, it de-risks the broadacre industry, which is where the north's true potential lies.
"It is not about the water, it is about the land.
"While the irrigation industry will take another five-eight years to build to 100,000 bales, due to the time it take to approve and the build the irrigation infrastructure, the rainfed industry could do it in three, if certain landholders wanted to take the chance."
Cotton Seed Distributors Extension and Development Agronomist for Far North Queensland, Jodie Pedrana recently said deciding when to plant in northern Queensland could be a moveable feast, thanks to the timing and velocity of the wet season each year.
She said advances in cotton research were helping North Queensland growers remain confident about the industry.
Gulf Cotton's bales currently go through Qld Cotton to St George, Emerald and Dalby, costing upwards of 25 per cent of their inputs, and Mr Findley said it was a big issue that would get solved with time.
"Even with this extra cost, everything still works out financially," he said.
"The lack of a gin is not stopping us from developing irrigation land nor will it stop us taking on new broadacre opportunities.
"You cannot expect a company to build ginning infrastructure on assurances - they need to see the product coming out of the region first.
"We are not there yet, but from our estimates, north west Queensland, through various entities, has grown over 20,000 bales this year.
"With additional growers coming online over the next three years, this number for rainfed cotton could be 30,000 to 40,000 bales."
Mr Findley said the total amount of cotton grown in the north west region within three years would be well and truly over the threshold for a company to build a gin, given the irrigation development plans they had at Etta Plains.
"Once again, these things take time, (but) I am confident a gin will be built and operational within the next five years," he said. "However, if there is a big uptake of the broadacre industry in the region, this can be expedited."
Mr Findley said they'd been drawing labour from the local region, and tried to hire and buy everything they could from companies along the Flinders Highway, from Mount Isa to Townsville.
"The purpose of being part of building an industry up here is to employ and utilise staff and business that have a presence up here," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.