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Arizona Cotton Comments

Progress of the 2000 Arizona Cotton Crop

by Jeffrey C. Silvertooth,
Extension Agronomist - Cotton

As we progress into the later stages of the 2000 season, the Arizona cotton crop continues to hold the prospects of a very good yield potential overall. As stated in an earlier article (July 2000), this has been perhaps one of the best seasons in recent years in terms of planting, stand establishment, early crop growth, and season-long development. The spring and early summer weather was very cooperative for developing plants with strong early season vigor and good fruit retention across the state. This has resulted in a very uniform fruit load on the plants in many fields. We are also noting a high degree of crop earliness. Based on plant mapping data from many sites across the state, these points are true for many areas.

Yield potentials appear to be very promising, and I believe conditions were conducive to the development of good fiber properties. This is particularly true for the micronaire factors the Arizona cotton industry has had difficulties with in recent years. Discounts associated with high micronaire fiber in Arizona have been estimated to have cost the growers $15 to $25 million per year over the past five to six years. Many of us believe that a uniform fruit load and early maturity can be important factors in limiting the development of high micronaire fiber.

To illustrate the degree of earliness that we are experiencing this year, recent information from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) indicates that as of 7 September the Phoenix Cotton Classing Office had classed a season total of 7,597 bales. On the corresponding date in 1999, 630 bales had been classed. Granted 1999 was a very late season, but the contrast is quite striking for the 2000 season. Also, it is interesting that the average micronaire value was 46.29 for these early bales. This is obviously just the beginning of the harvest season with the USDA projecting 950,000 Upland bales for Arizona this year and typically the earliest bales do not suffer high micronaire problems. However, with the prospects of a relatively early crop, there may be reason to be optimistic about the potential fiber quality with the 2000 Arizona crop.

Not only is early season crop development important to establishing a strong and uniform fruit load that can impact fiber micronaire, but late season management can be important as well. Accordingly, it is important to monitor crop condition, identify the optimum point for irrigation termination, and defoliate the crop when the last bolls intended for harvest have reached sufficient maturity. Bolls are sufficiently mature to defoliate the crop, without suffering yield or quality damage when the uppermost bolls for harvest have seeds with a tan seed coat and small leaves are present inside the seed.

We will of course watch the progress of the 2000 harvest with a great deal of interest, both in terms of yield and quality. Hopefully the yields will continue to be favorable with high quality fiber. If that is the case, it is also a good time to rejoice and enjoy the benefits of a good season. Arizona has not had a good season to cheer about for several years. Good luck with the harvest season.

Full Disclaimers

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.

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Information provided by Jeffrey C. Silvertooth,
Extension Agronomist - Cotton, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona.
Material written 8 September 2000.

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