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Group Title: Bulletin
Title: Cotton production in Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00003068/00001
 Material Information
Title: Cotton production in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin
Physical Description: 22 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Stoutamire, Ralph
Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: 1931
 Subjects
Subject: Cotton -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
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Statement of Responsibility: by Ralph Stoutamire.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "October 1931"
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Volume ID: VID00001
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Holding Location: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
    Main
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
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        Page 15
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        Page 21
    Acknowledgement
        Page 22
Full Text



Bulletin No. 55 New Series October. 1931 0



COTTON

PRODUCTION

IN FLORIDA


By
Ralph Stoutamire








State of Florida
Department of Agriculture
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
Tallahassee
4"A
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PRODUCTION
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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Nathan Mayo, Commissioner of Agriculture.....................Tallahassee





CONTENTS
Page

History of Cotton ...................................................... ............. 4
B o ta n y ....................................................................................
The Boll and Its Contents ....................................................................................... 5
U ses o f C otton .............................................................................. 7
Soil and Climatic Requirements .............. .............................. 7
S o il P rep a ra tion .................................................................. ................ ........ 8
V a rieties of C otton .................................................................. ..... .. ... 9
Fertilizers and Fertilizing ........................................... ............... 10
T im e o f P la n tin g ........................................................................................................... 1 5
C u lt iv a t io n ......................................................... ................................................................. 1 6
B oll W eevil C on trol ........................................... ................................................... 16
In sect E nem ies of C otton ............................................ ............ ............... ... 17
D isea ses o f C otto n ........................................ ....................................... .......... ........... 1 8
C otton H a rv estin g ................................................ ............................................. 19
C otton Im p rovem ent ........................................ ............................................. 21
Cotton in the Rotation System ................................................... ................. 21
A ck n ow led g m en ts ............................................................ ................................. 22







Cotton Production in Florida

By RALPH STOUTAMIRE

A TIHIOUOlI cotton is the greatest American cash crop and
the world's greatest fiber crop, it is not grown very exten-
sively in Florida. Since the boll weevil ename, the produc-
tion of long staple (Sea Island) cotton has become almost
obsolete. This long staple cotton was formerly grown exten-
sively in central and northern Florida. At present the area
best suited to the growing of cotton is the western tier of
counties. And here the crop should be grown in conjunction
with other farm crops from which a cash income may be
realized.
One of the serious handicaps to southern agrinlliure is and
has been too muchl reliance on one-crop cotton. The deplorable
condition of the South now (1931) is not caused byv cotton at
all, though man y persons say it is the cause. It is. to a large
lderee, the farmler's attempt to make iioniey from cotton with
which to buy all that he needs and some things that he does
not need.
The present outlook for cotton is as good as that for wheat
or corn. The chief object of the farmer should he to grow
cotton or any crop as s elea ply as possible. II' lhe crop cani not
be grown cheaper than the average market price, the enter-
prise is a failure. Good farmers in Florida have a chance to
grow cotton and to make money in doing it.
Farmers in northwest Florida and a few northern counties
will find it worthwhile to derive some of their income from
cotton. That is. they can with safety plant some of their land
to cotton and realize a profit most years. ('otton is as safe a
cash crop as they have. But it is not safe to put all of their
land or monlley reserve in a cotton crop. The farmer has too
nany other possible crops from which ie c(an derive an income:
for instance, clihos, peanuts, tobacco, waterllne]lons, sllgarelane.
sweet potatoes and many other crops. This does not mean that
a farmer should grow all of the above crops. But lie can grow
two or three o them or others, ini order to reduce the risk of
the one-crop system.
The farm will always be a difficult place on which to make
a living unless the element of risk ean he lowered, or eliminated.
So, where a farmer will plan to ldiversif.y and grow only part
of his land to cotton and give it good care and attention, he
will I)e safe and in the long run better off than by trying to
grow all of his land to one money erop. It is true that lie will






4 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

not always make a lot of money, but he will be able to make
some cash most years. And that is what counts in the grand
summing up of a man's life-what he did in the long run. To
live each year is more important than to live in luxury one year
and to go hungry another.
One of the primary reasons why cotton is America's cash
crop is due to the fact that cotton is one of the most stable
crops grown. Then, too, all of the crop may be converted into
money. The by-products of the crop are also valuable for a
number of purposes.
HISTORY OF COTTON
Cotton, which requires a long growing season, is a native of
the tropics where it, or its close relatives, frequently is found
growing wild. It probably originated in India or China, al-
though it was found in America when Columbus first came to
the West Indies.
There are a number of wild plants related to cotton in
America. It was introduced into the first American colonies
along the Atlantic seaboard. But the crop never gained much
importance in commerce until after the invention of the cotton
gin in 1793. Soon after that event cotton was planted in all
the southern states. It quickly became the greatest cash crop
in America. Although Florida has never grown as much cotton
as Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas, it has always grown
some.
Before the advent of the weevil Sea Island cotton was grown
extensively in central and northern Florida. But at present
there is very little of this type grown anywhere in the state,
because it is a late-maturing variety and weevil control has not
been practical. However, early varieties, like Cooke, Express,
Trice and Toole, are being grown successfully on the clay soils
of northern and western Florida.
Florida will probably never be a great cotton state. But it
will grow some cotton in conjunction with other farm opera-
tions in those regions adapted to it.

BOTANY
Cotton is by nature a perennial plant, but it is grown in
Florida as an annual. It belongs to the mallow family of which
there are a number of species. The species commonly grown
in this state are Gossypium hirsutum, upland cotton, and Gos-
sypium barbadense, Sea Island cotton.
The cotton plant is essentially a central stem with lateral
branches. The size of the stem and branches depends on the






('OTT'ON PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 5

variety, species and soil, as well as age. Tropical types often
become tree-like in size. but those grown in the United States
never become so large. The best producing varieties are com-
paratively small, not over 3 or 4 feet tall.
The branches arise from the main stem in a spiral-like man-
ner and when mature the plant is somewhat cone-shaped. There
are two main types of branches: vegetative and fruiting. Fruit-
ing branches are more desirable under holl weevil conditions .
The bark of the cotton plant makes a fair grade of fiber. It
peels readily from the steni. Branches and main stem are
rather brittle.
Roots are non-fibrous, similar to legumes. The tap root may
grow several feet deep. depending on the soil. But most feeder
roots go less than 6 inches deep. Lateral roots may grow large,
if stalks are large.
Leaves of the cotton plant vary rather widely. There are
usually three, five or seven lobes per leaf. Lobes may be deep
or shallow. Leaves are usually hairy underneath.
The cotton fruit or boll is the most valuable part of the plant.
The flower is rather showy, white or creanlmy white, and large,
with from three to five petals. It is borne in "squares" or
bracts. The mature ovary or boll has froi three to five con-
partments, and each compartment contains from eight to ten
seed together with the lint or cotton fiber. The number of bolls
per stalk depends on variety, season, etc. From five to fitly
usually occur on ost upland varieties. As a rule. large-boll
varieties are later in maturing and for this reason are not as
resistant to weevil damage as small-boll varieties.

THE BOLL AND ITS CONTENTS
The cotton boll is made up of three main constituents. lint or
fiber, seed and Iur or wall. When the boll matures it opens or
bursts, letting the filer protrude. The divisions of the cotton
boll are known as loeks, which are made up ot seed and fiber.
As a rule the filer is attached to the seed and sometimes it is
attached to the burs. Storm resistant cotton is that in which
the lint is either attached to tile bur or the bur is so irregular
that the lint can not fall out.
Seed usually make' up about two-thirds of the weight of seed
cotton. This varies however with the variety. Some varieties
have only 60 percent and even less by weight of seed.
The cotton fiber or lint is the main part of cotton) in com-
merce. Inmature fiber consists of small tubular-like cells and
mature fiber has a twisted appearance and varies from :'i to






6 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

11/~ inches in length, depending on variety and conditions. Sea
Island lint is 1.61 inches long, Egyptian is 1.41, American up-
land is from 7/8 to 11/4. The longer the fiber the better the
quality of cotton, as a rule.


Fig. 1. Illustrating the lengths of various types of cotton. (Photo by
courtesy of U. S. D. A.)

Mature cotton fiber is from two to three times as strong as
an equal strand or volume of wool. The fiber itself is made up
almost entirely of cellulose (97 percent), with about 3 percent
of fat, waxes, resins, minerals, etc. A 500-pound bale of cotton
contains approximately the following fertilizer nutrients: 1.7
pounds of nitrogen, 2.3 pounds of potash, 0.6 pound of phos-
phoric acid, and 1.6 pounds of lime.
Cotton seed make up about 20 percent by weight of the entire
plant and is twice the weight of the fiber. A ton of cotton






(()COTTON PRODUCTION IN FLORIDI)A 7

seed contains about 300 poulns of oil, 750 pounds of cotton-
seed meal, 800 pounds of hulls. 80 pounds of winters, 63 pounds
of nitrogen, 25 pounds of phosphoric acid, and 23 pounds of
potash. So in addition to the commercial value of cotton fiber,
the seed and its by-products are quite valuable. It will be seen
that while fiber does not deplete the soil very muclh, seed con-
tain high amounts of fertilizer nutrients.

USES OF COTTON
Cotton has a wider usage than most any other farm crop.
Clothing, threads, cords, cooking oil. automobile tires and
tops, cattle feed, paddling, ropes and many other things con-
tain cotton. But the greatest value still lies in the fiber for
making all sorts of fabric and cloth materials. (otton is also
a chief constituent of explosives. So cotton does its part to
supply the great world demand for all types of fabric materials.

SOIL AND CLIMATIC REQUIREMENTS
Cotton is adapted to wide ranges of soil types. But it is
rather restricted to climllatic conditions and seasons. So far
as soils in Florida are concerned. cotton is adapted to the up-
land s andy l nds loa ams as well as the fine sands (underlaid
by clay). Deep sains are not adapted to the production of
cotton and should not hie planted to this crop.
Cottio will fruit much better on soils having a clay or loam
subsoil. It goes without saying that soil for cotton should be
well drained and reasonably fertile. Lowland soils usually con-
tain too much nitrogen and organic matter for cotton to fruit.
Such soils produce stalk and vegetative growth at the expense
of fruit. In general any soil ranging in color from gray to
brown, with a sandy lomi or clay loam, ranging in color front
yellow to red, will produce good cotton if it is properly man-
aged and if the seasons are favorable.
Cotton to fruit well must have plenty of sunshine with mod-
erate amounts of rainfall during thie growing season. (otton,
being native of the tropics, naturally requires several months
free of frost in order to produce best.
Then, too. for best results rains should come at wide inter-
vals, from three to four weeks. Daily rains seriously interfere
with cotton production in several ways: First, it causes too
much vegetative growth. Second, it causes young bolls to fall
or shed. Third, it is more difficult to keep down weeds and
grass when rains are frequent. Fourth, rains interfere with
weevil control. So. after all, climate and distribution of rain-






DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


fall are very important factors affecting the production of
cotton.
Since the advent of the boll weevil several early varieties of
cotton have been developed that materially aid in the growing
of cotton in Florida and elsewhere. But in the main dry May
and June with dry September and October make possible the
great cotton belt in the South.
The rainy season in May and June does not make for best
cotton production anywhere in the South. Especially is this
true since the advent of the boll weevil which so seriously dam-
ages late-maturing varieties of Sea Island cotton. But northern
and western counties find it possible to grow some cotton along
with other cash crops at an advantage.















Fig. 2. Broadcasting land for the coming cotton crop, turning under
the remains of a winter cover crop. (Photo by courtesy of U. S. D. A.)

SOIL PREPARATION
Cotton is somewhat different from many other crops regard-
ing preparation of the seedbed. The plant seems to do well
on a rather firm seedbed, one that has become more or less
compact. Loose, sandy soils permit free downward root de-
velopment and, as a result, too much vegetative growth. Any
method of getting land ready for planting is satisfactory, pro-
vided the soil is broken to an average plowing depth for the
particular soil.
For best results cotton is planted slightly above the level, in
most cases on a bed or a list. This is done to facilitate ease of
handling during early growth, since young seedlings are rather
delicate and difficult to work, if planted below the level of the






COTTON PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA 9

soil surface. Then, too, when planted in the furrow like corn,
heavy rains pack the soil so the seed will not come up regu-
larly. To stunt young cotton means a poor crop, as a rule, so
all efforts should be exercised to produce strong. healthy and
vigorous seedlings. There is a reason for this: earliness means
getting ahead of the boll weevil.













A-






Fig. 3. Cotton planter of the type commonly used in the South.

Attention should also be given to the matter of rubbish and
litter in the soil when cotton is young a(nd tender. Too inuch
dead grass and weeds interfere with the early working of
youiig cotton, so attention must be given to getting such cover
crops turned under early enough in advance of planting to
allow rubbish and litter to (decay.
( otton rows should be laid out not over 4 feet apart. Some
farmers prefer rows to le :31 feet wide. And to further facili-
tate early growth of cotton, fertilizer is applied just under the
seed, using one-fourthi of the soluble a(nd readily available
nitrogen at planting and the remaining three-fourths when
the plants are chopped or thinned.

VARIETIES OF COTTON
The best varieties of cotton under boll weevil conditions in
Florida are the early and rapid-growing ones. Big-holl va-
rieties are usually later than small-boll ones and for that reason
1are not popular.






DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


Then the spinner wants more and more good quality of
staple, one 7/8 of an inch or more in length. There are a few
varieties that meet these requirements quite well. Wilt-re-
sistant strains of Cook and Toole are satisfactory for Florida.
Lightning Express is a long staple, early-maturing upland
variety. Cook 307-6, Council Toole, Express 95, Miller, Mexi-
can Big Boll and Mississippi Trice are other popular varieties
adapted to Florida.















Fig. 4. Chopping and hoeing cotton.

FERTILIZERS AND FERTILIZING
Experimental results in the cotton belt, and in Florida, show
that it pays to fertilize cotton. So if a farmer plans to grow
some cotton, it will pay him to plan to use some commercial
fertilizer.
Experiments in Florida have shown that a complete fertilizer
is necessary for best results. The following kinds and mixtures
have proved most satisfactory: Apply from 200 to 400 pounds
of a 3-8-5* mixture at planting, placing it in the drill 2 inches
under the seed; and side-dress with from 100 to 150 pounds of
nitrate of soda at chopping.
It has been found profitable to use all soluble nitrogen for
cotton at planting, preferably half of it being sulphate of am-
monia and half nitrate of soda. If the farmer wishes to make
up his own mixture, he may use 200 pounds of acid phosphate,
25 pounds of muriate of potash and 45 pounds of sulphate of
ammonia to be applied at planting time. Then use from 100
to 150 pounds of nitrate of soda when the cotton is chopped.
* 3 percent nitrogen, 8 percent phosphoric acid, 5 percent potash.




Table 1, Average Results from 35 Experiments Before the Boll Weevil Came and From 53 Experiments Under Boll
Weevil Conditions on the Lower Coastal Plain. (Ala, Exp, S.t Bul, 219.)


Kind (if Ih'llill


Wihoilnt W!evils


Ar, I,'lit Frm
. I," rl illia'rs


Arv, Prllt FI'rmI
li,',rtilla'rs


A
I v


1 200 Cottonseed meal .................. 52 6 I 60 11 2.3 6,90
2 10 Acid lhosphate .... ... 5... 2 ,4 5. 10 55 62 1,92 4.4
3 ..... N o fertilizer ............................................ 42 ...... ..... .. .. .....
I4 200 Kaioit . ........ ... ........ 563 10 9 ,50 556 I 25. 5,30
5 120 Cottonseed meal .........235 17 62 171 4,i 11,1
240 Acid phosphate
6 2 Cottonse d m eal ............................... 1 ) 1686 198 5 1 8
20 Kainit I
7 ...... N o f rtili er ........................... ................ 72 ..... ..... ... 4 7
8 2401 Acid phosphate ai 661 2 1 l58 170 631 143 5.28 11,0
20I Kainit
9 241 Acid phosphate 2 9 T 2 26,1) :U6 218 7.86 11,W
268 Cottonseed meal
288 Kainit
10 240 Acid phosphate ........ ... ......23 725 237 .17. 16,65
2 00 Cottonseed meal
100 Kainit
i I ...... N o fertilizer ....... ........ ............. .. 1.......... ........


210 Acid phosphate .........1 . I 1118 ,50
100 Kainit
100 Nitrate of soda


Vj
K-,
'v
V
*1

A

V


757i 266 16.611


12


' Seld cotton at 6 or 10 entls pIr li lid,


Will Welils


With IVv(,vils







12 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Table II. Average Results of 45 Fertilizer Experiments With Cotton on
the Coastal Plain (Norfolk Soil Group). (Ala. Exp. Sta. Bul. 228.)



Plot Amount and Kind of Fertilizer Per C, 2: C
Acre in Pounds o,

c Z


No fertilizer ....................
Nitrate of soda .................
Superphosphate ...... ..........

Muriate of potash ................
Nitrate of soda ....................
Superphosphate


Muriate of potash
Nitrate of soda
Superphosphate

Muriate of potash
Nitrate of soda
Superphosphate


................ 780


1ii ......
100
200

2 25
100
200

3 50
200
200

4 25
200
200

5 50

6 ......
100
400

7 25
100
400

8 50
200
400

9 25
200
400

10 50

11 ......


Superphosphate

Muriate of potash
Nitrate of soda
Superphosphate

Muriate of potash
Nitrate of soda
SuperDhosphate

Muriate of potash
Nitrate of soda
Superphosphate

Muriate of potash

No fertilizer* .........


* Average for no fertilizer. 356 pounds.


...... ......


716



733


...... $.....



360 23.60



377 24.46



424 25.72


472 29.06


Muriate of potash ................

N o fertilizer ........................
Nitrate of soda ....................


................ 761



................. 770


............... 913

................ 353


25.50



25.72



28.26



34.16


2.12



4.66



10.56


>
1






COTTON P'RODIUCTION IN FLORIDIA 13

Attention should be noted in this connection that too much
nitrogen appllied with too low an amount of potash and phos-
phorus is worse than no nitrogen at all.
Table I shows the results in money that may be obtained
from fertilizing cotton. It will be noted that these results were
obtained in Alabama. Nevertheless they apply to Florida con-
ditions, because of tile nearness to Florida's cotton region and
because of the similarity of soil types. The results show fur-
ther that the profit from fertilizer changed with the coming of
the weevils; for example, cottonseed meal is not as profitable
as nitrate of soda since the weevil came, but it was more profit-
able before it came.


Fig. 5. Cultivating cotton with a small one-horse cultivator which stirs
the upper layers of the soil. (Courtesy of International Harvester Co.)

It will also be shown that all of the nutrients gave some profit,
while with corn only nitrogen gave profitable returns. It is
also profitable to add a liberal supply of fertilizers to cotton as
is indicated from results in Table II.
No crop responds to good soil and fertilizers more consis-
tently than does cotton. (over crops play an important part in







14 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

reducing the cost of growing cotton. Table III shows the value
of using a cover crop on the growth of cotton over 25 years.
This illustrates the value of cover crops in improving Alabama
soils. Equally as good results have been obtained in Florida as
well as in any other southern state. So the farmer who fails
to use cover crops is losing something he rightfully deserves
and can obtain if he strives to keep his soil in good condition
with active organic matter. See Figure 6.


Fig. 6. Nice growth of Austrian peas and a sprinkling of oats planted in
November, being grown In Florida as a winter cover crop. An excellent means of
improving cotton or corn land. (Illustration by courtesy of Florida Agri. Ext.
Service.)






COTTON PRODUCTION IN FLORID[IA 15


Table Ill. Effects of Legumes Turned Under on Yields of the Succeed-
ing Crop of Cotton. (Ala. Exp. Sta. Cir. 48.)


Fertilizer,
Lbs. per Acre


Cropping System


Average Yield of
Crops in Seed Cotton,
Lbs.
1st 2nd Last
10 yrs. 10 yrs. 3 yrs.


Acid Phos., 100 Cotton continuously ................I 803 537 360
Kainit, 160'
Acid Phos., 160 Cotton continuously with
Kainit, 160 vetch as cover crop .................. 813 878 602
Acid Phos., 160 Cotton and vetch ........... .... 890 958 I 1042
K ainit, 160 Cow peas .. ..... ....... ......... .


Fig. 7.
South.


Common type of cultivating implement for cotton


TIME OF PLANTING

Cotton should be planted in Florida as early as frost danger
is over. This is usually from the last part of March to the mid-
dle of April in northern and western counties.
It is important to plant plenty of good disease-free seed to
the acre. Because the best way to make cotton is to have
plenty on the ground to compete with weevil conditions. It





16 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

may be drilled in rows or dropped by hand. It usually re-
quires from 1/2 to % bushel of seed per acre, depending on the
method of planting. The plants should be thinned to one or
two stalks every 10 or 12 inches in the drill. The thinning is
done when the third leaf appears.
CULTIVATION
Cotton requires careful attention in its early stage of growth.
If properly fertilized and managed, plants will grow off readily.
Young cotton plants are delicate and if grass and weeds get
started, cost of removing them is rather high. Any method of
keeping down weeds and grass will be sufficient until the crop
is large enough to shade the soil fairly well. Weeds and grass
can be controlled best when they are young and small. In many
cases it will be necessary to hoe the crop once or twice during
the season, and cultivate with a harrow or sweep three or four
times after the crop is chopped. It is very essential that the
crop he kept free of weeds and grass while it is small. Most
farmers cultivate cotton until it begins to fruit heavily.
















Fig. 8. Dusting cotton with hand guns for boll weevil control. (Photo
by courtesy of U. S. D. A.)

BOLL WEEVIL CONTROL
As a rule the matter of boll weevil control depends on
weather conditions. During rainy seasons it is rather doubtful
that any method of weevil control will be successful. But dur-
ing seasons of moderate rainfall and heavy weevil infestation,
poisoning will be profitable, provided it is properly done.






COTTON PRODUCTION N FLORIDA 17

Where possible use sweet poison early. The first crop of
weevils will be materially reduced and less injury done. Two
pounds of calcium arsenate in 2 gallons of water and 1 gallon
of syrup will make a satisfactory poison mop. Apply with a
mop to the buds of small plants. When the squares begin to
form regularly and damage appears on as many as 10 or 15
percent of the squares, it is wise to dust with calcium arsenate.
This can be done with a hand or machine duster. As a rule, the
hand machine is more popular in Florida than the larger ma-
chine dusters.
Dusting is best done during calm days and preferably when
the cotton is damp or moist with dew. From 4 to 8 pounds of
dust is used per acre per application, depending on size of
plants. Frequency of dusting depends on rains. When it rains
once a week it is necessary to dust once a week. When rains
come too often, it becomes impractical to keep poison on the
plants long enough to prevent weevil damage.

INSECT ENEMIES OF COTTON
Of all the insects that attack cotton, the boll weevil is the
most severe. Control measures for it have already been dis-
cussed.
The army worm sometimes attacks (cttoni and does severe
damage but usually it comes late in the season, after the crop
is made. Arsenic dust will control it.
















Fig. 9. Dusting cotton with a power machine mounted on a two-horse
wagon. (Photo by courtesy of U. S. D. A.)

The cotton boll worm also does lots of damage some years.
But so far there is no very practical control measure for it.





DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


There are a number of other insects like the flea hopper, snap
bugs, etc., which injure cotton. But the damage done by them
is local and, because they attack the squares, it is difficult to
control them.
The cotton caterpillar was once a destructive enemy of cot-
ton but in recent years control measures have been very effi-
cient. Its damage to cotton is by its larvae which hatch from
eggs laid on the under side of leaves. Larvae devour plant
leaves, but dusting with calcium arsenate gives complete
control.
The cotton red spider or mite causes a discoloration and
crumbling of leaves from sucking mites. They are reddish,
almost microscopic in size, and occur in great numbers on the
under side of cotton leaves. They spread rapidly and readily.
There is no very efficient control measure known, but dusting
with flowers of sulphur on the under side of the leaves has been
recommended.

DISEASES OF COTTON
Wilt is most severe of all cotton diseases. In many instances
wilt does much more damage than the boll weevil. It is a dis-
ease that lives in the soil, which makes it difficult to control it.
The most satisfactory remedy is to use wilt-resistant varieties
of cotton of which there are a number on the market. Cook
and Toole are the most popular. This soil disease is most severe
on sandy land.
Root-knot is an enlargement of the roots of plants caused by
small worms known as nematodes. Cotton is not as susceptible
to it as some varieties of cowpeas, beans and many other truck
crops. While there is no practical way of killing the nematodes
in the soil, they may be reduced in number by starving. That
means crop rotation and using crops which are not damaged
by the worms. Peanuts, velvet beans and corn are almost im-
mune from the attacks of these organisms, thus the farmer has
common crops at hand which he can grow in the worst nema-
tode infestation without fear or danger.
Anthracnose of cotton is caused by a fungus. It causes bolls
to rot, seedlings to wither and die, thus endangering the crop
quite seriously. The disease is spread by old plants and dis-
eased seed.
It is not an easy matter to destroy the organism once seed
are infected. But the organism does not live long on dry seed
nor in soil not planted to cotton. So if infected seed are stored






('OTTON PRODr(CTION IN FLO()II)A 19

for two years before being planted, and if old stalks are de-
stroyed, satisfactory control will be obtained.
Since anthracnose is more severe in damp, shady places, it
will be wise to grow the smaller, open varieties and use less
nitrogen in the fertilizer, thereby allowing more sunshine to
reach and dry out the soil. This will practically control the
disease.
In case of disease infection it pays to destroy old diseased
stalks and infected portions of plants as early in fall and win-
ter as possible.
Cotton rust is a name given to several unhealthy conditions
of the cotton leaves, characterized by their drying, burning,
turning red and falling off.
It is most prevalent on sandy soils and following rainy
weather. It is not so common on cla.v soils. Leaves of such
diseased cotton may be yellowish or dark brown and even rust-
like in appearance. They finally fall off before plants are
mature.
While this trouble is associated with a fungus, the plants
are able to resist the damage and injury wh(eni plenty of organic
matter is added to the soil. Potasl in the fertilizer is a good
control measure. Where rust occurs seriously, a treatment of
100 pounds of kainit or from 25 to 50 pounds of muriate of
potash will control it.
Damping-off is a fungous disease that lives in the soil. It is
more severe on wet. damp soils and any *method that will hasten
the drying of soil after rains will be helpful in controlling it.
No soil treatment is practical.

COTTON HARVESTING
When cotton bolls mature they burst or open and the cotton
fiber and seed extend outward. Due to the nature of the cotton
plant. bolls mature and open at different times. (onselquently
several weeks time is required for all the crop to open and be
ready to harvest. The rate of opening depends on weather con-
ditions. IHot, dry weather induces quick and rapid opening,
while rainy weather retards opening.
After the bolls are open and tle fiber is exposed to the
weather, the fiber begins to deteriorate, especially during rainy,
damp weather. So it behooves the farmer to pick his cotton
as rapidly as it opens, because the quality rapidly declines,
especially in bad weather, if it is left in the field.
Because of the nature of the cotton plant and weather condi-
tions, it is not advisable to harvest cotton by machiniie. Har-






20 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

vesting is done by hand, and should begin when there is two
or three hundred pounds of seed cotton open to the acre.
Cotton is never picked while wet, or should not be, because
wet cotton will rot in storage. Furthermore, wet cotton will
not gin very well. Unless the cotton is well cared for and
ginned dry, the lint or fiber will be of low grade and of low
value. The grower can materially improve the quality of his
cotton by proper care in handling to keep out trash, dirt and
moisture. Dry cotton will keep indefinitely in a dry place. See
Figure 10.
As cotton is picked it may be taken directly to the gin in
amounts from 1,300 to 1,500 pounds for ginning and baling.
The ginning operation is primarily the removal of fiber from
seed and is done with special gin saws. When cotton is ginned
it may be stored or marketed immediately. A bale of cotton
weighs about 500 pounds.



















Fig. 10. Cotton stored in a federal government bonded warehouse.
(Photo by courtesy U. S. D. A.)

Cotton seed may also be sold immediately or stored. Seed
contains a high content of oil, which has little feeding value to
stock. When the farmer can exchange his seed for cottonseed
meal to be used for fertilizer or stock feed, he should by all
means do so, because meal is higher in protein, mineral matter
and fertilizer value than are seed.
Weather conditions determine the number of times cotton






COTTON PRODUCTION IN FLORID)A


will need to be picked. Usually the field will need going over
two or three times, unless the weather is extremely dry and all
the crop opens within a short period. It is very essential to
pick cotton as fast as it opens in the field and to keep it dry
and free of dirt and trash.

COTTON IMPROVEMENT
The best farmer is ever alert to opportunities of improving
his cotton. Seed selection affords him his best opportunity in
this direction. And the time to select seed is while the cotton
is yet in the field. Go into the field where the crop is just
average and look for those qualities desired. Pick out the open
cotton and keel) it carefully separated from other cotton. (win
and store the seed separately.
Generally those qualities the farmer will search for in seleet-
ing seed are: Desirable boll; correct type of stalk, fruiting
rather than vegetative. a(nd showing a tendency toward less and
less foliage which provides shade and increases danger of dis-
ease; high yield: storm resistance; disease resistance; quality
of lint earliness.

COTTON IN THE ROTATION SYSTEM
Like all other farm crops, cotton responds to a rational sys-
tem of crop rotation, although it ean be grown on some soils
year after year. Since the cotton crop is usually clean culti-
vated, it tends to deplete the soil organic matter.
So when this practice is followed a winter cover crop, like
veteh or Austrian peas, should be planted in the cotton mliddles
during fall. A common, three-row grain drill will be sufficient
to plant the seed of these legumintous cover crops. If vetch
should not be planted, oats or rye will help maintain the fer-
tility of the soil, though they are not capable of collecting
nitrogen from the air and storing it in the soil.
(ottonl may be grown in rotation witll peanuts and (corn: as
corn, peanuts, oats and cotton. As a Irule, over crops. corln
stalks. or other organic matter, should be cut and chopped up
fine before cotton land is prepared, so that it may be easily and
thoroughly incorporated into the soil.
The main item in this connection is to keep tlie soil in a good
state of fertility. Poor soil is no longer to be considered for
cotton. If land will not produce seven or eight hundred pounds
of seed cotton to the acre with fair treatment, it should not
be grown to cotton. Plant a few acres and give them good
attention, and make more than by laboring with many acres of
poor land.


21






22 DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Bulletins of the several states where cotton is commonly
grown have been studied and used in the preparation of this
publication. The bulletins of the Alabama Polytechnique In-
stitute have proved particularly helpful.
Several farmers have been consulted. Dr. O. C. Bryan, pro-
fessor of agronomy of the Florida College of Agriculture, gave
considerable assistance and offered many suggestions in the
preparation of the manuscript. The United States Department
of Agriculture contributed a number of excellent photographs
which have been reproduced herewith.




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