FOR cotton farmers across our region, weather and pests affecting crop quality is a lottery.
This cotton season has been plagued by a hot and dry summer, followed by ill-timed rain that affected the quality.
Cotton quality can also be affected by residue left by pests such as the silverleaf whitefly and aphids.
But one Dalby farmer has been travelling around the world to try to come up with a solution to curb the cost of colour downgrades in cotton.
Matt McVeigh is a third-generation Dalby farmer, who was awarded the Nuffield Scholarship in 2015.
The scholarship took Mr McVeigh to 11 different countries - including India, China and the United States - to research the problem and find better ways colour downgrades could be managed to halt the loss of millions of dollars in profit.
Mr McVeigh said in order to reduce cotton downgrades, each stage of the supply chain should be more open to sharing information about why cotton has been valued at the allocated price.
"Collaboration in the supply chain from the farmer to the spinning mill is encouraged to gain an understanding of the issues faced by each sector,” he said.
"This can also provide valuable feedback as to why downgraded cotton has been allocated the current value.”
A downgrade in the quality of cotton costs the Australian cotton industry millions of dollars, as discounts apply to cotton that falls below the base grade.
"Australia currently receives a premium for cotton that meets all base fibre property levels. This premium is well respected and appreciated by the industry as input costs rise,” Mr McVeigh said.
"But when Australian cotton colour is below base grade, heavy discount values apply.”
Mr McVeigh has outlined processes for cotton growers to maintain the highest quality of cotton.
"Cotton quality should be the key priority for the cotton gins, and moisture management and drying technology should be utilised if available and not currently used,” he said.
"To help farmers reduce their colour downgrades, using a mini cotton gin can provide feedback on the quality of the crop and allow the grower to make changes if any issues arise.”
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