Crop Production & Planting

Cotton BeltThe Cotton Belt spans the southern half of the Unites States, from Virginia to California. Cotton is grown in 17 states and is a major crop in 14. Its growing season of approximately 150 to 180 days is the longest of any annually planted crop in the country. Since there is much variation in climate and soil, production practices differ from region to region. In the western states, for example, nearly the entire crop is irrigated.

Planting begins in February in south Texas and as late as June in northern areas of the Cotton Belt. Land preparation actually starts in the fall, shortly after harvest. Stalks Land Preparationfrom the old crop are shredded to reduce food supplies for over-wintering pests. Usually, this residue is left on the surface to protect the soil from erosion. The use of heavy mechanical harvesters compacts the soil, sometimes requiring tillage to loosen the soil for the next crop’s roots.