IT'S been part of Tandou Limited's cropping mix for two decades, but premium-priced Pima cotton is no longer competitive enough to justify growing and ginning this summer.
Improving yields and water use efficiency achieved from plantings of upland cotton mean that a hectare of long-staple Egyptian-style Pima only produces about 55 to 60 per cent as much lint as conventional crops.
Price premiums for prized longer and stronger Pima fibre currently sit about 55pc above upland cotton, but aren't enough to convince the company to maintain the 850ha planted at "Tandou" last summer, especially as it requires extra expensive and awkward spray management to keep insects and weeds at bay.
Unlike upland cotton, researchers are yet to successfully breed a genetically modified insect tolerant and glyphosate resistant Pima variety.
But they are managing to breed longer fibre length into upland varieties.
"I not sure if we'll ever grow Pima cotton on "Tandou" again," said farm manager and agronomist Rob Lowe.
Pima, with a fibre length of more than 28 millimetres, has been grown at Menindee and Bourke since the early 1990s, but Tandou Limited alone has been supporting the trade in recent years.
"It's a bit sad. We pushed on growing it by ourselves for a while, but it doesn't really pay to grow Pima in Australia now," Mr Lowe said.
"Pima's still widely grown in the US, Israel, China and other places where they can afford the manual labour involved, but our industry's going down the path of trying to build a market and reputation for a longer staple variation of upland varieties - something in the middle of Pima and upland cotton.
"We have some trial plantings on 'Tandou'."
Tandou's eight Pima gins, which carefully roll the cotton seed from the extra long staple fibre can process up to 180 bales every 24 hours, while its two saw gins can speed through 500 bales of upland fibre a day.
The company aims to pick 70,000 bales this year from 7120ha planted at Menindee and its new Hay district property "Pevensey".
Bigger plantings are likely in the Riverina next year when "Glenmea" is brought into production at Hay.