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Crop of the Week: Upland cotton
• With warm springtime temperatures, hot summers and dry falls, Yuma is a prime location for cotton production. It's planted in March and April and is furrow irrigated. The cotton plant requires about 180 to 200 days from planting to full maturity. After the plant is defoliated, the crop is mechanically harvested.
• Cotton acreage in 2012 is topping out at approximately 18,000 acres in Yuma County. The 2012 growing conditions were almost perfect, with few heat stress events which has severely impacted flower retention and boll set in previous years. Yields are promising this year.
• Cotton is a member of the Mallow family of plants. The Arabic people called it “Qutun,” which is where we get the word “cotton.”
• The primary Yuma variety is short staple or upland cotton. It is the major species of cotton grown world-wide, accounting for about 90 percent of planted acreage. Upland cotton has a fiber length of about 1-1/4 inches, compared to 1-1/2 inches for the Pima variety that also is grown here in less quantity.
• Pima cotton is most readily identified in the field by its bright yellow blooms that are much brighter and richer in color than the creamy white upland blossoms.
• Yuma County cotton production ranks third in Arizona.
• The average cotton yield is about 1,400 pounds per acre, valued at $700. Cotton quality is based on its external appearance, brightness, color and fiber length and strength.
• Cotton is a unique crop in that it is both food and fiber. Cottonseed is used as a supplement for dairy feed and is also processed into oil. Uses for cotton fibers range from heavy industrial to fine fabrics.
• Seeds are separated from the cotton fiber and the cotton is cleaned at the cotton gin. From the gin, the clean fiber is pressed together and made into bales. Each bale weighs about 500 pounds.
• Two hundred fifty pairs of men's cotton pants can be made from one bale of cotton. Or, 1,217 men's shirts, or 764 dress shirts, or 896 woven blouses, or 542 women's skirts, or 328 women's jeans, or 3,015 baby diapers, or 782 terry bath towels, or 7,820 men's handkerchiefs, or 484 men's dress pants, or 373 men's work pants, or 180 men's overalls, or 210 sheets, or 1,210 pillow cases.
• U.S. paper currency isn't paper at all, but a blend of 75 percent cotton lint and 25 percent linen. A 480-pound bale of cotton can be made into more than 313,000 $100 bills.
Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-3904.