A positive seasonal rainfall outlook combined with high soil moisture levels in many inland areas auger well for the summer crop season.
Ruling prices closer to sowing time for the individual commodities plus irrigation water availability will mainly determine which crop farmers opt for.
At present price signals point to a high dryland cotton planting and a reduced planting of sunflowers and sorghum.
Cotton Australia chief executive Adam Kay said cotton price prospects for new season crop of $500-plus a bale were creating “huge” interest in not only irrigated cotton but dryland plantings this summer.
Independent research showed rice was superior to other crop combinations in the Riverina- Sunrice
He said irrigation water supplies in river valleys from the Macquarie River south should encourage high plantings but the Gwydir, Macintyre, and Namoi Valleys could use more inflows into headwater dams.
He said Cotton Australia was expecting a crop next year of about three million bales compared with this year's crop of about 2.5 million bales.
The strong interest in cotton was reflected in the fact about 700 growers had been among the 1950 industry representatives who attended the industry's annual conference in early August.
“It's quite an exciting time for cotton,” Mr Kay said.
“We just need to add a little rain in a few areas.”
In the south, rice processor and marketer, SunRice, reports above average winter rainfall and a positive outlook for water allocations have created the likelihood of rice being the crop of choice for many farmers.
It said there was strong demand for Australian rice across many export markets and a suite of grower support initiatives from SunRice, such as new cold-tolerant shorter season varieties, released by the company's research and development subsidiary, Rice Research Australia Pty Ltd, that will be grown commercially for the first time this year. More efficient farming techniques developed by RRAPL were also driving strong yields.
Despite a relatively small harvest this year of almost 245,000 tonnes, the average yield at 11 tonnes a hectare was the highest national average yield recorded for the industry.
SunRice said these improved yields reinforced independent research showing rice was superior to other crop combinations in the Riverina, outperforming cotton, wheat, canola and maize.