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Conservation Tillage with Roundup Can Decrease Cotton Production Costs

J. R. Smart and J. M. Bradford


The release of Roundup® resistant cotton has opened new options for producers to manage post-emergence weed problems, choices which were unavailable under conventional production systems. Producers are concerned with the high costs of the new technology and whether or not the economic returns are worth the risk of adopting the new technology of using Roundup resistant cotton. Objectives of the study were to compare six weed management treatments over a three year period for effects on cotton lint yields and production economics. The same seed (Variety Paymaster 1220 RR) was used for all treatments, but the additional seed costs and technology fee were charged only to the treatments which included postemergence Roundup in the weed management program. Two of the treatments included conventional tillage, pre-emergence herbicides, with and without post emergence herbicides, and mechanical cultivation during the growing season. Two treatments were no-tillage, with and without pre-emergence treatments, and Roundup. Two treatments were no-tillage and included postemergence Roundup with and without a pre-emergence herbicide. Average lint yields ranged from 471 lbs/acre to 581 lbs/acre, but were not statistically different among treatments. The lowest net returns over the three year period were $110/acre with a pre-plant, burndown no-tillage cotton production using one pre-emergence and two post-emergence herbicides combined with mechanical cultivation during the crop growth period. The greatest net returns of $200/acre were with no-tillage using pre-emergence application of Prowl, Roundup post-emergence broadcast at the four leaf stage of cotton and later in the season applied with a hooded sprayer. Net returns using this no-tillage technology system were $87/acre greater than the conventional tillage treatment of moldboard tillage, using a pre-emergence application of pendimethalin, post-emergence application of fluazifop, plus mechanical cultivation twice during the growing season. Additional costs of resistant seed and technology fee for using the Roundup resistant cotton were more than offset by reductions in trips over the field and superior weed control while achieving similar lint yields.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1999 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 735 - 738
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Monday, Jun 21 1999