The bright yellow cotton bales that decorate Hooloovale are a much welcomed change for Dirranbandi producer Billy Carson.

It has been seven years of severe drought since he last planted the crop, and the last 12 months of rain have made a world of difference.

The family operation dry planted 460hectares of Bolgard III in October, before watering up the profile. The last of their crop was trucked to the gin last week.

Mr Carson said the contrast from last year couldn’t be more stark.

“Having the green grass and water in the dams; words can’t describe it,” he said.

“The yield has been perfect, everything has been perfect. You couldn’t ask for a better summer to grow cotton, it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too wet, the cotton fired out of the ground like you wouldn’t believe.”

You couldn’t ask for a better summer to grow cotton, it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too wet, the cotton fired out of the ground like you wouldn’t believe. – Billy Carson

Mr Carson said the burst of crop meant a little more work for defoliation.

“Because the energy was so strong in the ground and the crop came up so quick we had three defoliations, which is similar to most people in the region,” he said.

Alongside the season being “perfect”, Mr Carson said the latest in seed technology made a big difference.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve gown cotton, and you can see how much the technology has improved,” he said.

“Bolgard III makes growing a lot easier and a whole lot less stressful.”

Preparing for the future

Mr Carson said that the a review by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority’s (QRIDA) Farm Business Analysis Assistance (FBAA) program validated how he was managing his family farming enterprise which helped him take advantage of the rain.

“We accessed the report in 2019 to get an external point of view on our business,” he said

“It was still dry and we had been trying every alternative we could think of. We were going down the right paths and everything we were doing was right, it just hadn’t rained.

Mr Carson said most importantly the report strengthened the relationship with his lender.

“The report helped strengthen our relationship with the bank and showed we were actively trying to improve our position given the circumstances were so dire,” he said.

“QRIDA’s Farm Business Analysis Assistance has given us an overall assessment for our business which has helped us get through the drought and have comfort, both for ourselves and our lender.”

JUST PERFECT: A perfect cropping season has prevented Dirranbandi farmer Billy Carson from wiping the smile off his face.

JUST PERFECT: A perfect cropping season has prevented Dirranbandi farmer Billy Carson from wiping the smile off his face.

Mr Carson said it was especially important to prepare for the future when conditions were favourable and put a plan in place for when circumstances changed.

“It’s good just to get a check on your business especially if you’re in a drought,” he said.

“It could provide some options to set yourself up for when it gets dry again. Even if you take one thing out of the report it can be beneficial to you. To do it now is the perfect opportunity to have a look at a business when it’s good and you have more ability to change up your business strategy.

“It was no cost to us, gave external view of our business and we were able to select a provider who had a good name in ag the industry.

“The report gave us comfort in where our business was heading.”

QRIDA Farm Debt Restructure Office Manager Daniel Elder with Billy Carson.

QRIDA Farm Debt Restructure Office Manager Daniel Elder with Billy Carson.

QRIDA Farm Debt Restructure Office Manager Daniel Elder said while the FBAA report was a short process, it gave producers long-term options.

“It was great to see the report not only validated the client but in the long term they were also vindicated by their ability to achieve the results that had been forecast,” Mr Elder said.

“We recommend producers get in touch with now rather than wait until circumstances change when there may be fewer solutions on the table.”