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Fluid Journal : Summer 2014
12 The Fluid Journal Summer 2014 Summary: Owing to its ability to be productive and profitable under water-limiting conditions found throughout the state of Texas, cotton remains the major crop grown in Texas. As irrigation water supply becomes more limiting in West Texas, cotton production will still remain the major cash crop grown. Technology is available to greatly increase irrigation water application through reduction of surface evaporation. Alittle history first. Cotton originated in the semi-arid tropics of Central America thousands of years ago and moved across Asia, Europe, and finally to North America. Cotton is now produced in more than 90 countries with China, India, the U.S., Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Brazil accounting for 83 percent of world cotton production, which is currently about 128 million, 480-lb bales per year, increasing about 2 percent annually. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin, which mechanically removed fiber from the seed and led to the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Cotton acreage in the Southeastern US and across the southern states increased dramatically. Textile mills began to develop along the East Coast. Cotton fiber is spun into yarn and used to make a variety of fabrics. Cotton seed is used to make cooking oil. The solids are very high in protein and used for cattle feed. Whole cotton seed is used by the dairy industry. Today, cotton production and processing is one of the most mechanized agricultural systems. NASS statistics NASS statistics are available from 1866 to the present. In 1866, the US grew 7.7 million acres of cotton, producing 2.1 million bales with 122 pounds of lint/A average. The largest cotton acreage occurred in 1925 when 45.8 million acres were planted, producing 18 million bales with 174 pounds lint/A. The production, harvesting, and processing required extensive manual labor, which led to the importation of slaves and Summer 2014 • Vol. 22, No. 3, Issue #85 Dr. Dan Krieg ultimately to the Civil War. Beginning in the 1950s, cotton acreage declined to 20 million acres and has continued to decline to 10 to 15 million acres since then. Yields have increased from 200 to 300 lbs/A of lint in the 1940s to 1960s to 650 to 850 lbs/A in the last 25 to 30 years. Eradication of the boll weevil across the Cotton Belt has been the single greatest factor for the increase in productivity. The introduction of genetically modified cotton varieties tolerant to Roundup for weed control and to Heliothis species for insect control has also been a major contributor for increased yields. Texas #1 Texas is the largest cotton producing state in the US, averaging around 7 millions acres/ year. Yields have increased from 200 to 300 lint lbs/A to 600 to 700 lint lbs/A in the past 20 years. Irrigated cotton makes up about 2 million acres/year, with the remainder being dependent on rainfall. Irrigated yields have increased from approximately 500 lbs lint/A Figure 1. 2013 Daily PET by location