Cotton research underway
A joint effort is underway with the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, USDA, local farmers, and the city of Manila all working together on a 30 acre cotton test plot on the airport land in Manila.
Dr. Tina Gray Teague, entomologist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and professor in the Department of Agriculture and Technology at ASU, is one of the researchers working on the new location. Dr. Teague will be studying the impact of irrigation timing on cotton's susceptibility to insects.
Teague is also serving as graduate advisor for students working on Masters and PhD research programs which will be conducted at the Manila location.
Erin Kelly, a Masters student with Dr. Teague, is looking at ways to address field management decisions based on soil variability. Her work is serving as the base line research for additional research projects on the location this season.
Ray Benson, with the Mississippi County Extension Service, is working on a PhD project with Dr. Teague. His research is looking at irrigation management and seeding rates on growth and maturity of cotton grown on the variable soils in most Mississippi County fields.
Others involved with research at the Manila Airport location this year include Dr. Fred Bourland, U of A Experiment Station, who will have a cotton variety trial at the test site. Dr. Morteza Mozaffari, U of A Soil Testing, who will conduct several nitrogen rate studies on cotton, and Dr. Bill Robertson, State Cotton Specialist, will test different combinations of defoliation products.
Dr. Teague said a group of farmers asked for more cotton research in the area and the data from this research will be beneficial to the area growers.
The seeding rate test will include seed rates which will range in price from $40 an acre to $140 an acre. The research crew will count stands to determine final plant population and optimal seeding rates specific to the soil type in the field. Irrigation research in the field will include soil moisture sensors which will aid researchers in determining the effectiveness of irrigation practices.
"We are good at applying water but not as good at irrigating," Benson said.
Irrigation research will include rain fed plots, plots in which irrigation is initiated early in the season, and plots in which irrigation initiation is delayed until first flower.
"The weather we have had is not good for young cotton but it will be good for this research as we can see the effects of the stress," Dr. Teague said. "We are looking at irrigation timing, seeding rates, soil moisture and varieties. Just one seed less per foot could be a major savings for the farmers. This area has very innovative farmers."