Anderson County, Texas, farmer John McFarlane made better than two bales of cotton per acre, dryland, and with no rain from the end of May until September.

In addition to the profit from his cotton crop, McFarlane picked up an additional $1,000 in prize money as winner of the Texas Cotton Contest.

Averaging two bales of dryland cotton per acre with so little rainfall marks an outstanding achievement and shows better than average management. That accomplishment stands out even more considering that McFarlane made this crop in 1924, when the average Texas cotton yield stood at 141 pounds of lint per acre.

The contest, dubbed “More Cotton on Fewer Acres,” by sponsors The Dallas Morning News and its semi-weekly publication Farm News, with cooperation from the “Extension Service of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College,” began as a means of encouraging better management for cotton farms.

“Cotton is the keystone of Texas agriculture,” according to a brochure published to announce winners, production practices used to reach winning yields and to establish requirements for the contest to continue into 1925.

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Former Southwest Farm Press editor Calvin Pigg loaned Farm Press a copy of that publication, which offers insight into the important role cotton has played and continues to play in the Texas economy. The publication also noted: “Texas is the greatest cotton-producing State in the world and in recent years produced annually about one-third of all the cotton grown in the United States.

“In the face of serious threats of extensive cotton-raising in foreign countries, chiefly British dependencies and Brazil, Texas can hold its world supremacy as a cotton producing State only by adopting a practicable program of soil improvement leading to increased cotton yields per acre.”

With a few minor edits, those statements could apply to Texas cotton today.

But further comments show how support for agriculture has declined, especially in urban centers. “The decline of acre yields of cotton in Texas during recent years is of great concern to every business man (sic), banker and farmer in the State since cotton is generally recognized to be the barometer of business conditions.”