History of Cotton in Moree

Cotton in the Gwydir Valley 1956

The 1956 / 1957 summer saw one of the first commercial crops of cotton in the North West of NSW. Two blocks were planted in the Gwydir Valley one on Tycannah East owned by Mr Ross Gall and the second on Tycannah owned by Mr Gordon Gall. Both crops were sown by Mr Frank Williams a sharefarmer from QLD.

On Tycannah there was roughly 40 effective acres in an area of 100 acres. It was a dry summer with approximately six inches {150mm} of rainfall. The heavier clay soil on Tycannah was found to be most suitable enabling the crop to withstand the dry conditions more effectively that the sandier soil type on Tycannah East.

The plant stand was patchy due mainly to the fact that it was planted with a combine which was unsuitable. Despite the plant stand the crop had grown well and set an impressive boll load.

The crop at Tycannah was picked in May 1957, the first time a cotton crop was mechanically harvested in Moree. The cotton picker was sourced through the Queensland Cotton Marketing Board. The cost of harvest was four pence a pound. At the time hand picking cost were five pence per pound and the added expense of accommodating and feeding the men.

A field day held to demonstrate the use of the mechanical harvester attracted over 300 farmers from across the district.

The government guaranteed a price of 14 pence per pound for cotton that achieved the minimum standards, premiums were paid for the better crops. Yield of 1600 2000 pounds per acre had been achieved in Queensland and an average return of £29 per acre. Estimates of the time were for dryland crops in North West NSW to produce 1.5 bales, about 700lbs per acre which would return approximately £44 delivered to the nearest railway station.

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