AS  Vol.13 No.2 , February 2022
Annual Rainfall and Dryland Cotton Lint Yield—Southern High Plains of Texas
Abstract: Agriculture in the Texas High Plains (THP) is in a transition phase of producing crops with a diminishing supply of irrigation-water from the Ogallala aquifer to dryland production systems. This shift is driven by the fact that the depth to the water table of the Ogallala aquifer continues to increase. Dryland cotton production systems are prevalent in the southern counties of the THP and our purpose was to use the long-term dryland cotton lint yields from these counties as precursors of the future cotton production patterns that will emerge in this region. For this purpose, from 1972 to 2018, we calculated the ratio of dryland cotton lint yield per unit of annual rainfall at the county level. This ratio is called crop water productivity (CWP) and has units of mass per unit volume (g/m3). In our analysis, we used cotton lint yield data provided by the National Agricultural Statistics and rainfall data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Our results indicated that the three datasets used in our analysis, i.e., cotton lint yield, rainfall and CWP were all normally distributed. In this time period, 1972 to 2018, only one year 2011—a year with a record drought of 179 mm of rain failed to produce a dryland cotton crop in all the counties used in our analysis. The mean cotton lint yield ± standard deviation ranged from a high of 400 ± 175 kg/ha in Lubbock County to a low of 252 ± 144 kg/ha in Andrews County. However, the counties with the largest CWP > 90 g/m3 were Glasscock, Midland and Martin County. The importance of this result is that these counties are in the southern region of the THP and are subject to extreme environmental conditions and yet cotton producers manage to produce a cotton crop in most years. We conclude that management production methods used by these dryland producers represent the future schemes that will need to be adopted in other counties to sustain the emerging dryland cropping systems across the THP.
Cite this paper: Lascano, R. , Payton, P. , Mahan, J. , Goebel, T. and Gitz III, D. (2022) Annual Rainfall and Dryland Cotton Lint Yield—Southern High Plains of Texas. Agricultural Sciences, 13, 177-200. doi: 10.4236/as.2022.132014.

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