Opportunity has not been knocking often for Arizona cotton producers, but it has come to the door in 2002 with a crop off to one of its best start in years.

“Growers have a real opportunity this year to do something about our historically high micronaire problem,” said Jeff Silvertooth, state cotton specialist and head of the University of Arizona Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

Silvertooth has for several years researched the causes of Arizona cotton's historically high and discounted micronaire problems.

“While variety and location influence micronaire, excessive heat units in the field late in the season clearly give a high probability of high micronaire,” said Silvertooth.

With the 2002 crop off to an early start and summer growing conditions ideal, this is a good year to push the crop hard early to reach maximum production early.

Terminate early

“Early termination should provide good yields and reduce micronaire in a year like this,” Silvertooth said.

“It has been hot and it has been dry — ideal conditions to irrigate and push the crop along toward that early termination,” said Silvertooth, adding insect problems have been minimal so far.

A late crop also may not make good economic sense. “Even with the federal farm program, prices are such it may not make good economic sense to push the crop late if producers can set and hold a good crop early and get out early.”

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com