Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Climatic Risk to Cotton Production in the Ogallala Aquifer Region

Authors
item Esparza, Allison
item Gowda, Prasanna
item Baumhardt, Roland
item Robinson, Clay - WTAMU

Submitted to: Proceedings of the World Water and Environmental Resources Congress
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2006
Publication Date: May 20, 2006
Citation: Esparza, A.M., Gowda, P., Baumhardt, R.L., Robinson, C.A. 2006. Climatic risk to cotton production in the Ogallala Aquifer region. In: Proceedings of the World Water and Environmental Resources Congress. Examining the Confluence of Environmental and Water Concerns, May 21-25, 2006, Omaha, Nebraska. 2006 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Availability of short season varieties, increased energy prices, less water requirements, and depleting groundwater levels, it is believed that cotton is a viable alternative crop to corn in southern and central high plains of the Ogallala aquifer region. However, there has been no formal study conducted to document available total heat units between planting and harvesting dates for cotton, and their frequency to determine feasibility to grow cotton in the Ogallala aquifer region. In this study, we used a county-wise daily maximum and minimum air temperature database to assess climatic suitability for farming cotton in the Ogallala aquifer region. Results indicated that counties in the central high plains that include the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and southern Kansas are suitable for growing cotton but require varieties adopted for cooler and shorter growing seasons. Significant water savings is possible if producers were to switch 50 percent of their irrigated corn acreage to cotton in counties that are suitable for growing cotton. Information derived from this study is of interest to producers and commodity groups, seed developers, crop insurance companies and water resource management agencies.

Technical Abstract: Renewed interest in cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production in the Ogallala aquifer region can be tied to increased profitability associated with the growing demand for cotton, development of short-season varieties, rising energy costs, and declining water levels in the Ogallala Aquifer. However, the feasibility of growing cotton considering climatic characteristics of the region has not been determined. In this study, we used a county-wise daily maximum and minimum air temperature database to assess climatic suitability for farming cotton in the Ogallala aquifer region. For this purpose, a 30-year (1971-2000) climatic dataset was obtained from the National Climatic Data Center. Exceedance probability curves for total heat units accumulated during growing season were developed and used to identify those counties that are suitable for farming cotton at different exceedance probability levels. Results indicate that counties in the southern high plains region provide suitable climatic conditions to grow cotton as expected. However, counties in the central high plains that include the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and southern Kansas require varieties adopted for cooler and shorter growing seasons. Out of 131 counties, 102 counties receive 1800 or more heat units during the planting season at least once every two years. Significant water savings is possible if producers were to switch 50 percent of their irrigated corn acreage to cotton. Furthermore, information derived from this study is of interest to producers and commodity groups, seed developers, crop insurance companies and water resource management agencies.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page