Irrigation response in cotton to optimize yield, quality and profitability in the Texas high plains



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An imperative issue facing production agriculture on the South Plains is water availability. Over time, water has been drawn out of the Ogallala Aquifer at a rate that exceeds its ability to recharge. Therefore, efficient irrigation levels and seeding rates that optimize cotton quality and yield are vital to this region. A two-year study consisting of one cotton variety, three levels of irrigation and three diverse plant populations was located at two locations in Lubbock County, Texas in 2007 & 2008.

Irrigation played a significant role in many yield and fiber quality measurements. The lowest irrigation treatment matured the earliest and produced low yields but had the highest micronaire values. Lint yields were highest for the high irrigation treatment at two of the three locations, but saw decreased fiber quality due to lack of maturity. Seeding rate played a small role in determining yield and fiber quality. Three different weather patterns had varying effects on the results of this study. An economic analysis determined the net return from lint with regard to variable inputs in order to provide profitability comparisons for the producer.

The highest net returns from lint ranged from $1,308.34 (Quaker 2007) to $2,851.62 (Quaker 2008). We conclude that weather patterns, coupled with irrigation, heavily impact fiber yield and quality in the Texas High Plains.