Cotton is a major crop in Mississippi. In 2014, it ranked fourth behind poultry, forestry, and soybeans in state commodities, with $403 million dollars of revenue.
Mississippi producers planted approximately 420,000 acres of cotton last year. This number seems to fluctuate depending on weather, price of production, and current commodity markets.
The highest acreage recorded in Mississippi was in 1930 when 4.163 million acres of cotton were planted. The highest production year was 1937 when 2.692 million bales were produced over 3.421 million acres. The highest cotton yields were received in 2004 with 1034 pounds of lint produced per acre. This same year there were 2.346 million bales produced, almost as much as in 1937 with only one third of the acreage. This yield beat the previous yield of 934 lbs in 2003.
Many changes have occurred over the last few years in cotton production:
- Boll Weevil Eradication efforts have been successful and the Boll Weevil is no longer a problem pest in Mississippi.
- Transgenic Cotton Varieties containing the following Genes: Roundup Ready, BollGard I & II, and WideStrike and Liberty Link have become very popular, and the majority of the cotton acres in Mississippi are planted in some type of transgenic variety.
- Growers are realizing the benefits of reduced tillage programs to increase yields and profit margins.
The major insect pests in cotton have also shifted. The Boll Weevil used to be the main pest, followed by the Tobacco Budworms and Cotton Bollworms. However, with the introduction of the new technologies and success of the Boll Weevil Eradication program, the Tarnished Plant Bug has now become the number one pest in Mississippi cotton production.
Cotton is and will continue to be a major crop in the state of Mississippi. With the current varieties and technology available, average cotton yields in Mississippi may have risen to a higher plateau than in years past. Technological advances in transgenic cotton varieties have allowed cotton to be managed and produced easier than ever before, and these advances continue to be major reasons that yields have continued to increase over the past few years.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Questions following a hurricane
- How do you estimate yield by boll counting? PDF
- How do you estimate potential yield loss? PDF
- Will foliar feeding seedling cotton increase yield?
- What are Mississippi's freeze dates?
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- What is the recommended seeding rate for cotton?
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- What percentage of my crop should I plant in Bt?
- What final live plant population should I target?
- What variety, or varieties should I plant?
- Should I replant?
- What should I do about hail damage?
Cotton Disease and Damages
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rain, cool weather, more rain and some wind have slowed cotton maturation, but since the crop was a little behind schedule, the damage may be less than if harvest were already underway.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said recent weather is causing some yield loss, but it is hard to estimate how much.
“Being late to a degree helped the crop because rain did not string out open cotton, but given that we are running out of heat, we may have been better off with an earlier crop that had been defoliated and was standing up when the rain came,” Dodds said.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cotton will always have challenges, but few of them will ever compare to the boll weevils that thrived in Mississippi from 1904 until 2009.
“It is nearly impossible for this younger generation of consultants, scouts and growers to understand how hard boll weevils were to control and how much boll weevil control hurt beneficial insects and complicated cotton management,” said Will McCarty, who served as the Mississippi State University Extension Service cotton specialist during “the boll weevil wars.”
MACON, Miss. -- Farmers' independent natures make them strong, but when agricultural producers join forces, they can take success to the next level.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, commended Mississippi farmers for their efforts to unite in the battle to eradicate boll weevils from the state.
“Historically, boll weevils were the prime pest in cotton fields. To control them, it took numerous pesticide applications,” he said. “Those treatments were costly and ate into the growers’ profit margins.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s row crops have had enough rain, and most fields just need sunshine.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said corn is mature and will gain no benefit from additional moisture. In the first couple of weeks of August, skies were overcast or rain was falling across most of the state.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Tropical Storm Cindy did not help the state's cotton crop that struggled with cool and wet weather all spring.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said in mid-June, cotton received about a week of the heat and sun it needs to thrive. Weather before that was not ideal, and rain remains in the forecast.