Central QLD Growers on Cyclone Watch as Kirrily Heads Towards Coast

Cotton growers in Central Queensland are looking to the skies and online as Cyclone Kirrily, a Category 2 cyclone that is strengthening, heads towards them.

At the time of writing, the cyclone was moving steadily towards Townsville with expectations that it will cross the coast late Thursday and move inland. While the potential impact on growers in and around the Central Highlands is unknown, there are mixed views on what the expected downpour could mean.

Regional Manager Robyn Lehmann said growers who planted late are hoping to receive valuable rain, while those with open cotton are hoping their crops avoid the damage of heavy rain and strong wind.

All agree, though, that the big winner could be the Fairbairn Dam, which is sitting at 28.1%, and would benefit from inflows, thereby allowing an increase in allocation in the future.

Meanwhile, media interest in the impact of ongoing rain on cotton yields has increased, with CA’s communication team receiving multiple requests for interviews. Late last year, media reports forecasted the impact of El Nino, leading to fears of a long dry summer and a downgrade of crop expectations to below 4 million bales.

In November, that changed as unexpected rain drenched many parts of NSW and QLD, and that rain has continued into the New Year in many parts.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay appeared on Bloomberg Television and other outlets when the crop forecast was revised back to 4.5 million bales, adding a potential economic boost of $350 million.

Mr. Kay said the unusual season highlights the challenges of farming, with growers able to manage most of their inputs while the weather remains a constant risk and opportunity.

It is clear skies in Emerald ahead of cyclone Kirrily
It is clear skies in Emerald ahead of cyclone Kirrily