Conversion of cotton production to certified organic management in the northern San Joaquin valley: plant development, yield, quality, and production costs

  • Swezey S
  • Goldman P
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Abstract

Replicated monitoring and harvest of sample plants in organic and conventional production systems near Chowchilla, California, USA in 1995 showed that yields did not significantly differ in the two systems, although yields were low in both production systems due to delayed planting under wet spring conditions. Boll retention was numerically higher in the organic production system but this difference was only significant at harvest at the lowest 5 positions. Boll retention at the 1st position was negatively correlated with increased plant density in both production systems. Average internode length and weekly height-to-node ratios, both indices of plant vigour, did not differed significantly between production systems. 1993 and 1994 quality measurements indicate that fibre length, strength, micronaire, and leaf grade did not significantly differed between production systems. However, 36% of organic bales were classified as light spotted colour grades in 1994, while conventional bales had few spotted grades. A preliminary comparison of the 1994 operational costs of production showed that organic cotton had higher per acre production costs ($646/acre) than conventional cotton ($582/acre), including higher labour costs due to increased manual weeding requirements. Positive returns above operational costs for organic cotton were projected for an average 1.6 bales/acre at a reported average price of $1.21/lb compared with positive returns above operational costs projected for conventional yields of 1.8 bales per acre at $0.80/lb in 1994. An average 44% premium was obtained for certified organic cotton.

Author-supplied keywords

  • cotton economics farming systems fibre fibre plant

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Authors

  • S L Swezey

  • P Goldman

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