Evaluating and Promoting Cotton in Tennessee

The harvest season is just about complete for Tennessee’s cotton crop. Producers recently met to learn about overcoming some of the challenges of growing this vital crop.

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) experts like Tyson Raper recently hosted Cotton Tour at the AgResearch center in Jackson, where growers could see the experimental crops there. Farmers learned about irrigation, pest and weed control, and how the commodity markets look for cotton.

As Charles Denny explains, “Tennessee is on the northern edge of the nation’s cotton belt, and the crop is grown in 23 counties statewide. Tennessee farmers will grow more than half a million bales of cotton this year.” To put that in terms where we all might relate – just one bale can produce 200 pairs of jeans and 12-hundred t-shirts.

In recent years though, the number of Tennessee acres planted in cotton has dropped, and UTIA experts want to see more of the crop.

John Lindamood took the tour. They grew 2,000 acres of cotton on his Lake County land, and next year have the option of boosting that number. “You know, it’s late season and this time of year, sometimes you get the rains and sometimes you don’t,” explains Lindamood. “We’ve been blessed in northwest Tennessee. We’ve had adequate rains without having excessive rains.”

So, depending on where you were in the state, it was either a good year or a challenge when it came to cotton. Meantime, another crop has been harvested, and producers will evaluate how things went, and make plans for the next growing season and beyond – keeping cotton a critical part of Tennessee agriculture.