Narrow Row vs Conventional Row Spacing on Lint Cotton Yield and Quality

M.D. Heilman and L.N. Namken


From 1984-1989 research in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas (LRGV) was conducted on 30-inch as compared with the conventionally used 40-inch row culture. Small replicated plots and large plots ranging in size from two to sixteen acres were used. Large fields were field harvested with commercially available spindle harvesters. The average cotton lint yields for the 5-year period were 939 lbs/acre (30-inch row spacing)as compared with 816 lbs/acre (40-inch row spacing), respectively. The average yield increase was 15%. There was also a trend toward higher valued bales because grades from the 30-inch spacing contained generally less trash than bales obtained from the 40-inch row spacing. Bales from large field tests showed an approximate .01 dollar per pound increase in value associated with the higher bale grades. A 5-year average of 72 dollars per acre additional revenue from the yield increase was obtained from the 30-inch row spacing as compared to the 40-inch.

With the 30-inch row spacing, canopy closure was approximately 30 days earlier than for the 40-inch row spacing. Rapid canopy closure reduced weeds and resulted in one or two cultivations less than observed in the 40-inch row spacing. Decreased evaporation reduced moisture loss, therefore saving critical irrigation or ground moisture resources. Spindle harvesting of 30-inch row cotton culture has been a major drawback to its use. Split-row spindle harvesters, although effective, have a 25 percent decrease in field efficiency as compared with a standard two-row 40-inch spindle harvester. The introduction of a commercial continuous five row harvester in 1989 for 30-inch rows has overcome this obstacle.

Another advantage of the 30-inch row culture is the increase in the percent set of first fruiting sites which results in a 5 to 7 day increase in maturity. This contributes to increased earliness and improved boll quality in the 30-inch row as compared with the 40-inch row spacing.

There has been a general trend observed toward higher uniformity ratios which indicate that under certain environmental conditions less short fiber occur in the bale with the 30-inch row spacing than with the conventional 40-inch spacing.

Six years of research on comparisons of 30-inch row spacing with the conventionally used 40-inch spacing has shown several positive benefits including yield, earliness, and quality. These benefits have increased production efficiency of cotton in the LRGV.

Reprinted from 1990 Proceedings: Beltwide Cotton Production Research Conferences pg. 87
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998