Submitted to: Crop Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 27, 2006
Publication Date: April 24, 2007
Citation: Bruns, H.A., Pettigrew, W.T., Meredith Jr, W.R., Stetina, S.R. 2007. Corn yields benefit in rotations with cotton. Crop Management. doi:10.1094/CM-2007-0424-01-RS. Interpretive Summary: Labor and infrastructure promoted continuous cotton as a primary cropping system in much of the Mississippi Delta for nearly a century. Crop rotations are stated to benefit all crop species involved in the system through a reduction in pests and increased yields. Corn is now grown on about 1 million acres in the Delta of Mississippi and can be used as a rotation crop with cotton to improve yield of both crops. It was found that corn grain yields tend to be greater following cotton than following a previous corn crop. Grain test weights and kernel weights though were unaffected by the rotation system. This research demonstrates that corn producers can increase yields by rotating corn and cotton crops.
Technical Abstract: Crop rotations have long been stated to benefit all species involved in the sequence. Continuous cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) has been the primary crop for much of the Mississippi Delta until recently. Corn (Zea mays L.) is now grown on about 1 million acres in the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana usually in rotation with cotton. The objective of this research is to evaluate corn’s performance in a four year furrow irrigated corn-cotton rotation experiment at Stoneville, MS. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a split-plot arrangement of treatments replicated eight times. Whole plots were cropping sequences which were assigned at random at the beginning of the study and remained in the same location throughout the experiment. The cropping sequences were continuous cotton, continuous corn, corn-cotton-corn-cotton, or cotton-corn-corn-cotton. Four adapted corn hybrids and cotton cultivars were grown as sub-plots beginning in 2000 to 2003. Corn grain yields were greater following cotton than continous corn in 2001 (169 bu/A vs. 160 bu/A) and 2002 (126 bu/A vs. 117 bu/A). Grain yields from the continuous corn treatment differed among years but no consistent change was observed. Hybrids differed in yield in all years of the experiment but no consistency in the data was noted. Grain test weights in the continuous corn treatment differed among years but were not below what is required for US No. 2 yellow corn. The weights of 100 kernel samples did not differ among years or treatments during the experiment. Though ecological benefits of crop rotation are well established, short-term economic needs often dictate planned cropping sequences.