It makes sense, in light of current economic realities, for cotton farmers to spend their money where they know it will do the most good.

Randy Boman, Texas Extension cotton specialist at Lubbock, has been preaching that sermon across the High Plains all winter, trying to offer some salvation to growers who have been damned by low prices, poor yields and sinfully high production costs for the past three seasons.

Energy costs triple what they were last summer add even more urgency to the message. Irrigation and fertilization costs have soared, for instance.

“Producers should spend their dollars on inputs with a high likelihood of returning the most lint,” Boman says.

Trying out new production systems or dedicating huge acreage to new, unproven varieties, chemicals or technology may provide more excitement than many growers can afford in 2001.

Boman recommends growers get back to the basic doctrines of cotton production while paying attention to some recent innovations that help manage costs without sacrificing yield or quality.

The basics include: tillage; variety selection; fertility; planting rates and timing; weed control; timely, efficient irrigation; and earliness.

Beginning with this issue and continuing in subsequent issues, Boman and other cotton specialists will discuss techniques to make the most of every dollar invested in cotton production in a Southwest Farm Press series we're calling Cotton 101.