Watering the Crop: Plant Requirements and Irrigation Practices in the East

James G. Thomas


Supplemental irrigation has developed slowly in the Eastern Cotton Belt. Adequate rainfall and drought tolerance of cotton have been major reasons for slow adoption of irrigation practices. The inconsistant response to irrigation and high initial investment costs also have slowed irrigation development. There has been significant research in the Cotton Belt on cotton irrigation, but only in the past 5 to 10 years have economics dictated that cotton yields must be maintained at as high a level as possible to make it a profitable crop. In 1985, there were approximately 2.9 million acres of cotton in the Eastern Cotton Belt, of which 400,000 acres were irrigated (14 percent). In contrast to 1985, there were 3.6 million acres of cotton in 1978 with only 136,000 acres irrigated or 4 percent. However, some of the questions asked by the first irrigators of cotton in the Rainbelt are still asked today.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1987 Beltwide Cotton Production Conference pp. 9 - 10
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998