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2000 Florida Cotton Production Guidelines: Introduction1 Richard Sprenkel and Mike Donahoe2 1. This document is NFREC2, one of a series of the North Florida Research and Education Center, Florida Cooperative Extension Services, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Date first printed Jan. 2000. Please visit the EDIS Website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Richard Sprenkel, Professor, Department of Entomology, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy FL 32351. Mike Donahoe, Santa Rosa County Extension Director, Milton FL 32583. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/University of Florida/Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean. Cotton Production in Florida Cotton was a major crop in Florida in the early part of the 20th century. Acreage declined over the years, but this has not been a steady decline because acreage has responded to price fluctuations. Yields and acreage of cotton in Florida Since 1978 are shown in Table 1. There are several factors a farmer must consider in deciding whether to grow cotton or increase his acreage. First of all is the predicted price of cotton. Because prices may fluctuate during the year and estimated prices may change, it would be best for a grower to know current prices. He should also keep in mind the cost of production. According to estimates of the University of Florida, the total cost of growing cotton (cash expenses and fixed costs) would be more than $590 per acre in 2000. Naturally, a farmer should estimate production costs for his farm. Also, yield potential should be estimated for each farm. The yields given above represent production capabilities of some of Florida's better loamy sands and sandy loams of the upper panhandle, where practically all of Florida's cotton is grown. As growers plant on sandier soils that have less water and nutrient holding capacity, lower yields may occur under stress conditions. At one time distance to a gin was important, but modules have allowed cotton to be hauled farther in module trucks. The availability of harvesting equipment is important. Growers who have been planting cotton may have harvesting equipment to meet their needs, but others would have to arrange for custom harvesting. Growers who expect to grow cotton indefinitely may want to consider buying new equipment. Insect management will require considerable attention and input. Fields should be scouted for insects twice a week and, when treatment is warranted, equipment should be available that can meet the needs for insect control. Although insect management in some fields may require several chemical applications, most cotton farmers in Florida make fewer than 4 applications per season. There may be other pest problems (nematode or weed) on a farm which could influence the decision to plant cotton. Review of the 1999 Cotton Crop in Florida Fields planted in late April and early May generally had enough soil moisture to establish a stand. However, dry conditions during May delayed crop emergence until June in other fields. Growing
2000 Florida Cotton Production Guidelines: Introduction 1.1.2 conditions were hot and dry throughout the season. This resulted in rapid crop development with reduced yields in many early planted fields. Fiber staple was short from many of these early maturing fields. Thrips populations were at below average to normal levels. Granular insecticides were used on most fields at planting and provided adequate control. Lygus bug populations were low all season throughout the area. Approximately 6% of the acreage received an application for Lygus. Early season square set was generally high. Heavy aphid infestations developed in most fields during late June and early July. The beneficial fungus disease, Neozygites spp., began reducing populations the second week of July. The fungus was slow to develop due to dry conditions. Low levels of aphids persisted for the remainder of the season but did not result in yield or quality losses. Beneficials were at high levels all season where insecticides were not used. They developed on the early aphid population and helped provide control of worm pests. Fire ants were abundant all season in fields grown under strip-tillage. (Approximately 50% of fields were grown using this method of conservation tillage.) Bollworm and tobacco budworm populations were extremely low all season and did not cause problems in either conventional or Bt cotton. Conventional varieties averaged less than one application for these pests. Many fields did not require treatment. Both beet and fall armyworm infestations were very low all season. Few, if any, fields required treatment for these pests. Southern armyworms were found in scattered fields throughout the area during mid-season. Feeding was confined mainly to leaves and blooms. No economic injury was observed. Approximately 200 acres were treated once with organophosphates or pyrethroids. Stink bugs were present in low to moderate numbers through mid season. Populations increased to damaging levels in many fields following migration from corn in August and peanuts in September. Highest infestations occurred in field borders adjacent to peanuts. Approximately 70% of fields received an application for stink bugs. Overall, this was the lightest cotton pest year with the fewest number of insecticide applications in at least 23 seasons. State yields are expected to average 520 pounds of lint per acre.
Table 1. Cotton acres harvested and yield in Florida, 1978-1999 2000 Florida Cotton Production Guidelines: Introduction 1.1.3 Year Acres Harvested Yield (pounds) 1978 3,600 506 1979 3,400 565 1980 5,900 610 1981 17,000 601 1982 15,000 627 1983 12,000 608 1984 17,000 847 1985 22,500 693 1986 19,000 707 1987 29,000 646 1988 29,000 566 1989 29,000 574 1990 36,500 609 1991 50,043 710 1992 50,000 776 1993 50,000 696 1994 68,000 735 1995 109,000 440 1996 100,000 672 1997 100,000 655 1998 80,000 480 1999 95,000 525
Table 2. Estimated cotton yields in several mid-south and southeastern states in 1997 and 1999. 2000 Florida Cotton Production Guidelines: Introduction 1.1.4 State Estimated Yield (lbs lint/acre) 5-year average 1999 Alabama 650 549 Arkansas 750 715 Florida 573 589 Georgia 676 580 Louisiana 692 708 Mississippi 767 708 North Carolina 646 486 South Carolina 671 419 Tennessee 621 501 Virginia 719 667