Submitted to: Journal of Cotton Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 23, 2006
Publication Date: January 16, 2007
Citation: Pettigrew, W.T., Meredith Jr, W.R., Bruns, H.A., Stetina, S.R. 2007. Effects of a Short-term Corn Rotation on Cotton Dry Matter Partitioning, Lint Yield, and Fiber Quality Production. Journal of Cotton Science. 10:244-251. Interpretive Summary: Passage of the 1996 US Farm Bill (Freedom to Farm) gave cotton producers the option of growing alternative crops in response to market conditions while still being able to participate in the US cotton program. As a result, many traditional Mississippi Delta cotton producers grew corn on a portion of their acreage to break the cycle of continuously grown cotton and minimize any problems inherent with that system. However, little information was available describing what to expect when a corn-cotton rotation system was implemented on the soils of the Mississippi Delta. This study investigated how the growth and development, yield, and fiber quality of continuously grown cotton compared with that of cotton when grown following one or two years of corn. Cotton grown following two years of corn yielded 15% more than the continuously grown cotton due primarily to the production of 15% more bolls. Fiber micronaire of the continuously grown cotton was 1% and 3% greater than that produced by cotton following one or two years of corn, respectively, but would not have received a price discount for this difference. This minimal yield increase, in and of itself, would probably not be sufficient to justify a change in cotton production systems. However, other economic or agronomic factors (disease, insects, weeds, or nematodes) might weigh large enough to justify a switch.
Technical Abstract: Although cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) has traditionally been grown under a continuous monoculture production system in the Mississippi Delta, some cotton producers have begun rotating their land with corn (Zea mays L.) because of economic and agronomic factors. Because of the lack of knowledge regarding corn and cotton rotation systems in this region, the objectives of this research were to determine how the growth and development, lint yield, yield components, and fiber quality were affected when cotton was grown following one or two years of corn production. Four rotation production systems [1) continuous cotton; 2) continuous corn; 3) corn-cotton-corn-cotton; 4) cotton-corn-corn-cotton] were implemented during the 2000 through 2003 growing seasons at Stoneville, MS utilizing four cotton cultivars ('PayMaster 1218BR', 'Phytogen PSC 952', 'Stoneville 4691B' and 'SureGrow 747'). Cotton was grown in the final year (2003) for all the rotation systems that had cotton as a component. Taller plants were produced when cotton was grown after one (12%) or two (15%) years of corn. Leaves from these plants also had 7 to 8% lower specific leaf weights (SLW) than leaves from continuously grown cotton. Cotton grown following two years of corn yielded 15% more lint than the continuously grown cotton due primarily to the production of 15% more bolls per unit ground area. None of the other cotton yield components differed among the rotation systems. Micronaire from continuously grown cotton fiber was 1% and 3% greater than the fiber produced by cotton following one or two years of corn respectively. This minimal yield increase, in and of itself, would probably not be sufficient to justify a change in cotton production systems. However, other economic or agronomic factors (disease, insects, weeds, or nematodes) might weigh large enough to justify a switch to some system of crop rotation.