Transcript


UT Research & Education Center
Jackson Dr. Owen Gwathmey
UT Agricultural Experiment Station


Dr. Chris Main
UT Agricultural Experiment Station



Chuck Denney
UT institute of Agriculture


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Chuck Denney
Many Tennessee farmers opted to plant corn instead of living in high cotton in 2007. The reason - the potential for ethanol. We’ll grow some 800-thousand acres of corn, but that means cotton acres are way down.

Dr. Chris Main
“In West Tn, we’re down about 28% on our acreage. Last year we saw a planted high for the last decade or so of 700-thousand acres. This year we’re in the neighborhood of 500 thousand.”

Chuck Denney
If farmers could have predicted this summer’s dry weather, they probably would have planted more cotton. While yields will likely be impacted by the lack of rain, UT specialist Dr. Chris Main says cotton is drought-hearty, and does better in dry weather than many other crops.

Dr. Chris Main
“The cotton plant early on for about the first sixty days of its life is trying to develop a good root system. So there’s not a lot of growth above ground. (51:16) What it’s doing is setting itself up for a dry situation.”

Chuck Denney
Ideally farmers would like to see an inch of rain a week mixed with hot sunshine for cotton to thrive. But rarely does it work out that way.

Dr. Owen Gwathmey
“This is a baby boll, and this is what you’ll see grow into a full-sized boll.”

Chuck Denney
UT’s Dr. Owen Gwathmey is part of a team doing a cotton study at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center. Note the different heights of these cotton plants in the research plot. The taller plants were irrigated when the first buds appeared. Shorter plants are where irrigation started later, or there was no irrigation at all.

Dr. Owen Gwathmey
“One of the biggest questions for the economies of irrigation is when to start applying water and for how long, and how much water to apply. The baseline is one inch per week, and we apply the difference between rainfall and one inch, if there’s less than an inch during the week. We just make up the difference, and therefore it’s called deficit irrigation.”

Chuck Denney
Irrigation can be costly for farmers, so UT experts want to find the optimal amount of water to produce the best crop, and when to irrigate.

Dr. Owen Gwathmey
“There’s a definite economic impact, and it’s possible to put on too much water. That may not help yields.”

Chuck Denney
Ironically this dry summer turned out to be a good time to do this research project. Any knowledge gained is helpful to producers - a rainy day scenario for when there is no rain.

END

NOTE: In coming weeks, yields could still be decent. The research is supported in part by Cotton Incorporated.