What is in this article?:
- Improving soil, diversification is crucial for better cotton
- Yield averages
- Profitable crop
- Contest participants beat averages
- Dryland costs still similar
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.
"More cotton on Fewer Acres," was the theme for a 1924 cotton yield contest.
Contest participants beat averages
McFarlane was not the only contest entrant to increase yields significantly. According to contest directors: “While the average yield of lint cotton in Texas for the last five years is around 130 pounds an acre or slightly more than one-fourth of a bale, the average yield for the eighty-six highest entrants in the ‘More Cotton on Fewer Acres’ contest is almost 400 pounds an acre for each five-acre contest tract, or more than three times the State average.
“Also, the high men in the cotton contest produced their cotton from 7 (cents) to 10 (cents) a pound instead of 20 (cents) to 25 (cents) as has been held to be the average.”
Texas AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist Gaylon Morgan says the cotton contest may have had a long-term effect on Texas cotton production.
“The whole purpose of the high yield contest was to educate fellow producers about management practices that would improve yields,” he says. “In many ways, the educational effort of the yield contest was successful. Our yields are higher, and we are growing cotton on 50 percent fewer acres than in the 1920s.”
Morgan says farmers still listen to other successful farmers to pick up ideas. “Although less emphasis is on farmer-to-farmer education today, farmers still prefer to hear input from their farming colleagues than any other source. For example, at Extension meetings, the farmer panels are always the most popular portion of the program.”
Morgan also praises McFarlane’s documentation of production inputs, especially for labor costs.
“To think how much our crop production efficiency has increased over the past 90 years. We have replaced man and animal labor with tractors for tillage, harvesters, and weed management. This process has substantially increased efficiency (pounds of lint per acre) and pushed farmers to make their income by farming more acres.