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Historic, archived document 

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Contribution from the Bureau of Plant Industry 
WM. A. TAYLOR, Chief 

Washington, D. C. Vv Ifarch 3, 1917 


By O. F. Cook, Bionomist, Bureau of Plant Industry. 


Page Page 
iMate GOS 5 so sos eocaccodbonacadsoneasss 1 | Labor requirements of cotton...............- 9 
Increasing demands for long-staple cotton... 2 | Cotton culture a community undertaking.. 11 
New types of cotton available............... 3 | Community control of gins and oil mills.... 12 
Cotton formerly grown in California. ......- : 4 Agricultural advantages of community or- 
Extent of possible cotton territory in Cali- Danie atone faese see aay eee as SS 13 
Utes eons aetna aan whee ced, : WONCIUSIONS aove oe eas ae eee ass Sase 14 

ural conditions favorable.............--. 
] (WIRD S Gacceacodeas 6 
Returns that may be expected from cotton... 8 TRS IEROOTS OF COON GEES E 

Every season of scarcity and high prices brings renewed inquiries 
regarding the possibility of extending the production of cotton into 
new regions. ‘The industrial uses of cotton are being increased more 
rapidly than facilities of production. As Europe produces scarcely 
any cotton, the industries of many countries are dependent upon im- 
ported raw materials. Manufacturers continually urge the need of 
developing more adequate and regular supplies, especially of the 
better classes of cotton fiber. 

Experience of the frequent fluctuations of crops and prices in the 
American cotton belt have led to numerous attempts, subsidized by 
associations of manufacturers or with the direct support of govern- 
ments, to increase the production of cotton in other parts of the 
world. Statistics show a decline in the proportion of the world’s 
cotton crop furnished by the United States. This means that the 
world’s demand for cotton has grown faster than the ability of this 
country to supply it, and that the production of cotton in other coun- 
tries is Increasing more rapidly than here. 

Some parts of the American cotton belt have been too acutely de- 
pendent on this single crop. Many farmers who relied entirely upon 

80473°—Bull. 583—17 


cotton were brought to disaster through the destruction of cotton by 
the boll weevil or by the loss of a market at the beginning of the 
European war. These crises were the more acute because cotton had 
been considered so long a safe crop and afforded new demonstrations 
of the danger of complete reliance of any community on a single 
crop. In California it is beginning to be understood that many com- 
munities are devoted too exclusively to special industries and that 
there is need of some such crop as cotton for opening the way toward 
a safer policy of more diversified farming. 

In many of the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, 
and America, efforts are being made to establish cotton culture as 
colonial enterprises on a basis of permanent competition with the 
United States. There can hardly be a question of the desirability 
of utilizing our resources of production as far as feasible. One of 
these undeveloped resources is the production of Egyptian cotton, 
which experiments have shown to be possible in Arizona and Cali- 
fornia. The need of supplementing our importations of Egyptian 
cotton by domestic production has recently been very acute, and the 
high prices that are now being paid are attracting public attention 
to the possibilities of cotton growing in California. 


No danger of direct competition with the older centers of cotton 
production in the Southeastern States is involved in the development 
of cotton culture in California, for the reason that it will be so ob- 
viously to the advantage of California to produce cotton that will 
not need to enter into competition with the South, such as the 
Egyptian cottoa, which our manufacturers are importing on a scale 
of many millions of dollars every year. All previous records were 
exceeded in 1916, with importations amounting to about 350,000 
bales, valued at more than $35,000,000. 

The rapidly increasing demand for Egyptian and other superior 
types of cotton is due to a variety of causes, the most important 
being, undoubtedly, the enormous proportions attained by the auto- 
mobile tire-fabric industry and the greater attention being given by 
manufacturers, dealers, and the public generally to the fact that 
strength and durability of fabrics depend very largely on the quality 
of the cotton fiber. Recognition of this fundamental fact in rela- 
tion to automobile tires in time may be reflected in other branches 
of the textile industry and in turn lead eventually to a general elimi- 
nation of the enormous waste of industrial effort involved in the 
production, manufacture, and use of weak, inferior fiber. 

New communities can secure a great advantage in the production 
of long-staple cotton by limiting themselves to the planting of a 
single superior variety. In the older parts of the cotton belt, where 


each farmer is likely to plant a different kind of cotton, the varieties 
can not be kept pure. The fiber deteriorates in quality and declines 
in market value. New varieties are introduced frequently, but these 
soon deteriorate through admixture and the neglect of selection. 
No general or permanent improvement can be expected as long as 
the condition of unorganized communities and miscellaneous plant- 
ing continues. 

As a result of experiments conducted by the Department of Agri- 
culture for several years past. in the Southwestern States, the 
Egyptian type of cotton has been acclimatized and superior varieties 
have been bred, which are now being raised on a commercial scale in 
the Salt River Valley of Arizona. During the same period numerous 
experiments have shown that the Egyptian cotton is not well adapted 
to replace the Upland type of cotton, either in Texas or farther east. 
Susceptibility to injury by drought and disease both appear much 
greater under conditions in the cotton belt. The need of a longer 
growing season is another serious handicap for the Egyptian type 
of cotton in the eastern United States and would exclude it from 
competition with Upland cotton in all of the regions that are infested 
by the boll weevil.’ | 

Even with the same long-staple variety grown: in California as in 
the eastern districts, there may be no direct or injurious competition. 
The conditions of soil, climate, and water supply in California are so 
different as to give the lint distinctive qualities, and there is less 
danger of the annual fluctuations in yield. and quality of fiber that 
have made it unsafe for manufacturers to rely upon eastern long 
staples exclusively. The production of Durango cotton in the Im- 
perial Valley, by giving it a recognized place in the market, has 
served to stimulate the planting of this variety in eastern districts. 
This relation would doubtless continue even if the production of 
Durango cotton in California were greatly increased, for there seems 
likely to be a very large demand for this type of cotton if only it 
can be produced with such regularity that manufacturers can rely 
upon adequate supplies being available. The possibility that produc- 
tion might be increased more rapidly than’ the demand must: be 
recognized, but it does not appear to be a present danger in view of 
the special scarcity and high prices of the Egyptian cotton. 

As eastern varieties of cotton have not proved to be well adapted 
to conditions in the irrigated districts of the Southwestern States, 

1 Thus, there are natural limitations to competition in either direction. The Hgyp- 
tian type is sure to be preferred in the Southwestern States as long as higher prices 
make its cultivation more profitable. If other types are grown they are likely to be 

of the same general commercial character as the Egyptian, with fiber of special qualities 
that can not be produced to the same advantage in the Southeastern States. 


there is as little occasion for farmers to undertake to bring in Upland 
seed from the cotton belt as to get Egyptian seed from Egypt. To 
make importations of Egyptian or other foreign seed is contrary to 
regulations under the Federal plant-quarantine law and the State — 
quarantine law of California and is extremely dangerous on account 
of the possibility of introducing the boll weevil or other parasites. 
The ravages of the pink bollworm in Egypt, India, and other regions 
show that it is a very serious pest, like the boll weevil. It is of 
the utmost importance to keep these insects out if cotton growing is 
to develop in California. While regular importations of seed are 
prevented, the public needs to be warned of the danger from seed 
that may be brought in casually by travelers or immigrants from 
foreign countries or by settlers from Texas or other weevil-infested 

In the San Joaquin Valley, cotton growing can hardly be consid- 
ered as a new industry but rather as a return to a beginning that was 
made in the early years of the agricultural history of the State, in the 
middle of the last century, and maintained through the period of the 
Civil War and beyond. The Ninth Census, that for 1870, notes the 
production of 34 bales of cotton in San Diego County, but it is 
known that larger acreages of cotton were being planted in the San 
Joaquin Valley during this period. 

In the report of the Tenth Census, that for 1880, published in 
1884, California was included with the other cotton-growing States 
ona basis of production of 295 bales, grown on 375 acres in Merced 
County, the lack of more complete statistics being explained by a 
note saying that “the enumeration schedules sent to this State did 
not include cotton.” 

In the general discussion of the conditions and prospects of cotton 
culture in California, also published in the Tenth Census report, 
plantings estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 acres are said to have been made 
in Merced County in 1873, and in that year a firm of Merced County 
growers made an export shipment of 22,886 pounds of cotton to 
Liverpool. ‘This seems to have marked the climax of the early ef- 
forts, but areas of 350 to 500 acres continued to be planted in the 
next decade, or possibly later, though no cotton was returned from 
California in the Eleventh Census, that for 1890. 

Hilgard shows that cotton had begun to attract attention in Cali- 
fornia as far back as 1856, when a premium of $75 was offered by 
the State Agricultural Society for the best acre of cotton. In 1862 
the State Legislature offered an aggregate of $6,500 in premiums for 
cotton in lots of 100 bales, the best lot to be rewarded with $3,000, but 
the prizes remained unclaimed until 1865, when the $3,000 was paid 
to a farmer in Los Angeles County who raised 108 acres, the yield 


not being stated. The counties from which successful plantings were 
reported in the early period are Butte, Colusa, Fresno; Kern, Lake, 
Los Angeles, Merced, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, 
Shasta, Sutter, Tulare, and Yolo. Other counties supposed to afford 
conditions favorable for cotton were Napa, Sonoma, and Tehama. 
The general conclusions reached by Hilgard from his detailed investi- 
gations of the California cotton industry in 1879 were stated as 

From the record above given it appears that cotton has been successfully 
grown at many points, practically covering the whole of the great valley, a 
part of the foothill lands of Shasta and a part of Napa County, and to the 
southward all the agricultural portion of the southern region.. By inference 
drawn from similarity of climate and products, without direct test, we may 
include within the possible cotton-growing portions of the State the valleys of 
Napa and Sonoma, the agricultural portion of Lake County, the foothill region 
of Tehama, and the entire lower foothills of the Sierra. On the other hand, 
all the bay region, as well as the seaward valleys of the entire Coast Range, 
are excluded from the cotton-growing area by reason of the cool summers, trade 
winds, and fogs to which they are subject. 

In addition it may be broadly stated that in the Sacramento Valley cotton 
may on deep soils be grown without irrigation, while in the San Joaquin 
Valley it, like all other crops, must be irrigated to insure profitable returns. 
The best experience seems, moreover, to indicate that, as in the case of the 
vine, the minimum irrigation that will enable the plant to develop is that which 
on the whole gives the best results, inasmuch as late irrigation especially tends 
to retard the opening of the bolls and in the low portions of the fields to 
start new growth, leaving the older bolls stationary. 

The Sea Island variety is a failure thus far wherever tried. That cotton 
culture has not assumed larger proportions in California as yet is adequately 
explained hy the fact that the home market is, in the absence of cotton factories, 
extremely limited, and the long distance from the world’s markets renders 
competition with the Atlantic Cotton States on the one hand and with India on 
the other a doubtful matter, which could be turned in favor of California only 
by exceptional circumstances, such as peculiar excellence of the staple. At the 
same time, cotton production has been found profitable so far as the home 
demand has gone, and good prices have been obtained ; and when exported the 
California staple has rated high in comparison with the average product of the 
Gulf States. 

What, then, are the inducements toward an expansion of cotton culture in 
California and the possible establishment of cotton factories on the coast to 
create a home demand? 

With the equalization of the prices of labor, in consequence of increased 
facilities of communication, there certainly is no reason why the home demand 
for cotton goods on the Pacific coast should not be supplied from home growth 
and manufacture, and there is reason why it might secure a large share of 
the Asiatic market, with which it is in the most direct connection.* 

Hilgard referred to plantings of Sea Island cotton in several locali- 
ties, but in no case was success reported from this type of cotton. In 

1 Hilgard, E. W. Report on the physical and agricultural features of the State of 
California, with a discussion of the present and future of cotton production in the 
State. .. p. 76-77. In U.S. Dept. Int., Census Off., 10th Census, v. 6, pt. 2. 1884. 


a published newspaper article an ill-advised planting of over 500 
acres of Sea Island cotton in Colusa County was mentioned. The cot- 
ton had only begun to bloom in October when the crop should have 
been ripe: yet a few Upland plants that grew in the same field had 
fruited abundantly. The best results were claimed for Upland short 
staples from Tennessee and Georgia, but an Upland long-staple va- 
riety called “ Petit Gulf,” from Louisiana, is said to have done well 
in several places. 

Cotton was urged by Hilgard as a better crop than wheat for many 
of the lands of the central valleys, on the ground of being less likely 
to lead to exhaustion of the soil, as less likely to lead to harmful con- 
centration of alkali in the surface layers of the soil on account of 
being a tillage crop, and as needing less water for irrigation purposes 
than other crops that had been proposed as substitutes for wheat. 
The point was made that cotton could be exported while alfalfa could 
not, and that the California grower would have a great advantage 
over his southern competitor in not having to “fight the grass.” 

It is evident throughout Hilgard’s report that he looked upon cot- 
ton as one of the California industries that were sure to develop, and 
this idea finds very definite expression in the statement that closes his 
general discussion: 

Keeping all these points in view, the writer can not but think that the wider 
introduction of cotton culture into California is but a question of time, and that 

in many respects it will serve to improve the agricultural prosperity of the 


Of new territory readily available for cotton in the United States, 
California probably has the largest areas. Recent demonstrations of 
cotton possibilities have been afforded by the beginnings that have 
been made in the Imperial Valley and the Colorado Valley in extreme 
southern California, but the San Joaquin and other more northern 
valleys contain much larger areas of irrigated or readily irrigable 
land that might be used for cotton. Hilgard estimated that one-third 
of the agricultural land of the State lay in the central valleys, with 
an area of more than 17,000 square miles. While only a part of this 
territory is suited to cotton, it seems not unreasonable to suppose that 
the central valleys might produce about 10 times as much cotton as 
the Imperial Valley. 

It is to be expected that much of the cotton will be grown on the 
level lands in the open valley where fruits and other tender crops are 
excluded by low winter temperatures, but places may also be found 
for cotton as an additional crop in communities that are now devoted 
to fruit growing or other industries. Indeed, the best results are 
likely to be secured, at least at first, in communities that are already 


established and well organized on the basis of other crops. Farmers 
who are familiar with the local conditions and have only to learn 
the requirements of the new crop are hkely to make better progress 
than those who have everything to learn, as in communities formed 
of new settlers, some of them with no agricultural experience and 
others persisting in the use of methods to which they have been ac- 
customed in other regions, but which are not adapted to the special 
conditions and requirements of the irrigated districts. 


That natural conditions of soil and climate very favorable for 
cotton culture are to be found in the interior valleys of California 
has been shown again in recent years by the behavior of series of 
different kinds of cotton that have been grown and studied at several 
points representing the general range of climatic conditions—Red 
Bluff, Chico, Marysville, Davis, Stockton, Dos Palos, Visalia, Exeter, 
Semitropic, and Bakersfield. 

The general result of these experimental plantings has been to 
leave no doubt that cotton is able to make normal growth and mature 
good crops in the warmer districts of the interior valleys; that is, in 
the northern part of the Sacramento Valley and the southern part of 
the San Joaquin Valley. The most successful plantings have been 
those at Bakersfield and Semitropic in Kern County, and at Dos 
Palos in Merced County, where the plants were extremely well 
grown and productive, with bolls of very large size and lint of ex- 
cellent quality, results that are obtained only under conditions 
thoroughly favorable for the development of the plants. 

Much more extensive experiments would be necessary to determine 
how far cotton culture might be carried toward the cooler climate of 
the Bay districts in the central part of the State by using early short- 
season varieties or selecting for adaptation to the local conditions, 
but no special difficulties seem likely to be encountered in the warmer 
parts of the valleys. The cotton plant is able to thrive on a great 
variety of soils, a moderate but regular supply of moisture being the 
chief requirement. While the plants are able to survive drought, the 
‘crop is likely to be injured by any extreme condition that checks or 
forces the growth of the plants. 

It has to be expected that any undertakings with a new crop, 
wherever the beginnings may be made, must pass through an experi- 
mental period, in order to test fully the possibilities of the soil and 
local climatic conditions and determine the methods that can be ap- 
plied to the greatest advantage. The most that can be said at present 
is that practical experiments with cotton are likely to be justified in 
any of the warmer districts where soils of reasonable fertility and 
adequate supphes of water are available. 


It is very desirable that experimental efforts in cotton growing be 
limited to communities in which the general agricultural conditions, 
as well as the present interests and activities of the community, are 
such as to give ground for a reasonable expectation that an annual 
irrigated crop like cotton, if found to thrive, would be likely to be- 
come a permanent resource. For a few scattered individual farmers 
to plant cotton in communities that are not likely to engage regularly 
in its production is not advisable. It is expensive to ship cotton 
seed and not worth while to install gins and oil mills unless the pro- 
duction of cotton reaches commercial proportions. 


The first step toward the commercial planting of cotton, or con- 
sidering it as a practical alternative of any other crop, is to determine 
whether cotton is likely to be more profitable or at least sufficiently 
remunerative to be added to the existing series of crops. Undoubt- 
edly the chief obstacle to the production of cotton on a large scale in 
the San Joaquin Valley and other districts of California lies in the 
fact that attention has been directed to other industries that have 
been considered more profitable than cotton growing. While cotton 
can probably be grown on many lands that are now used only for 
grain or pasture, it seems reasonable to expect that at least the first 
beginnings with cotton in new localities will be made by farmers who 
are already settled on the land and engaged in the production of 
fruit or other intensive crops. 

Even at the highest prices for cotton it should not be expected to 
compete with the bonanza figures that are sometimes realized from 
fruit crops. Though acre returns of $150 or even $200 are not alto- 
gether impossible, they can be obtained only in exceptional conjunc- 
tions of very large yields and very high prices, like those that ruled 
in the season of 1916, when 40 cents and upward per pound was ob- 

The most that can be considered as a reasonable expectation from 
cotton at moderate, normal prices is a gross return of $75 to $100 
per acre. This is on the basis of Durango or some other Upland 
long-staple variety selling between 15 and 20 cents a pound and yield- 
ing at the rate of a bale per acre, which requires favorable conditions 
and good farming. The cost of production per pound increases with 
every reduction in yield, because the cultural operations and the ir- 
rigation water have to be applied to poor-yielding cotton as well as 
to good. 

With a yield of a bale of 500 pounds of lint cotton the cost of pick- 
ing an acre of the Durango variety is between $15 and $20, an 
amount about equal to the total cost of the previous care of the crop, 


so that half of the return, or $35 to $50 an acre, may be reckoned as 
a net gain from the farm operations. With Egyptian cotton, the 
cost of picking must be reckoned as about double that of Durango, ~ 
and the ginning of Egyptian cotton is also more expensive, roller 
gins being required instead of saw gins, which are used for Upland 
staples. To make good these differences, a premium of 4 or 5 cents 
a pound for the lint is necessary to render the Egyptian more profit- 
able, but the new and rapidly increasing demand for Egyptian cot- 
ton for automobile tires and other industrial uses, and the stationary 
or declining production in Egypt favor a substantial premium for 
Egyptian. It may be that yields will average higher with Durango, 
in view of the fact that Egyptian cotton requires a longer season to 
mature a full crop, though with favorable conditions Egyptian may 
yield as much as Durango. Profits of $150 to $250 per acre are 
claimed for growers of Egyptian cotton in the Salt River Valley in 
1916, but these must be considered as altogether exceptional and cer- 
tainly not to be used as a basis of calculation. 

It is possible that difficulties may be encountered in providing 
roller gins in case a greatly increased acreage of Egyptian cotton 
should be planted in Arizona and southern California in the season 
of 1917. Roller gins are not made in the United States, but have to 
be imported from England. The demand for them has been limited 
in the past to the Sea Island districts of the South Atlantic States. 


That the labor requirements of the cotton crop have not been well 
understood in California may be one of the chief reasons why more 
efforts have not been made to extend this industry before. The popu- 
lar idea that large supplies of very cheap labor must be available, as 
in Egypt, India, China, and formerly in the American cotton belt, 
has been shown to be erroneous. The last and most striking demon- 
stration of this fact is the establishment of Egyptian cotton produc- 
tion in the Salt River Valley of Arizona. Although labor appeared 
to cost about 10 times as much in Arizona as in Egypt—$2 a day, as 
compared with 20 cents—it has been possible by the use of farm 
machinery, improved cultural methods, and especially the breeding 
of better and more uniform varieties of cotton to make good the 
differences in cost of hand labor. 

Egyptian cotton has been grown to advantage in Arizona for 
several years past, during a-period of unusually low prices. The 
chief difficulty in the newly settled southwestern communities is not 
that the cost of labor is prohibitive, but that not enough labor is 
available when needed. This seems to have been the difficulty that 
was encountered in the early attempts at cotton culture in the San 


Joaquin Valley, as it has been in recent years in the Imperial Valley 
and the Salt River Valley of Arizona. The supply of farm labor 
now available in the San Joaquin Valley certainly is very much 
greater than it was half a century ago, when irrigation agriculture 
was new. How much of the available labor can be apphed with 
advantage to the care and harvesting of a cottan crop is a question 
that must be decided independently in each community. 

Experience gained in Arizona and elsewhere in the United States 
in recent years does not indicate that the cotton industry requires or 
is limited to the use of cheap and irresponsible labor. Dependence 
on such labor tends rather to injure and restrict the development of 
cotton culture by keeping it on a low plane, limited to inferior 
varieties and mixed seed, so that poor and uneven lint is produced, 
the value of which is still further depreciated by careless harvesting 
and handling. 

When the several unnecessary wastes and losses are taken into 
account and the possibilities of avoiding these are recognized, one is 
brought inevitably to see that the very best quality of agricultural 
skill and of careful, intelligent labor can be utilized in the production 
of cotton and that the industry is much more likely to prosper if it 
ean leave behind the traditions of cheap labor. Hence, it is not neces- 
sary to suppose that the establishment of cotton culture in California 
would increase the present dependence on transient labor. It seems 
quite as likely to add to the permanent population by making it easier 
for new settlers to establish themselves. 

Farm work with cotton is not of a nature to be considered as 
heavier or more laborious than with crops that are already grown in 
California. Methods of plowing, preparation, and seeding are not 
unlike those for corn or other tillage crops. Thinning and cultivat- 
ing make less demands than for sugar beets. The gathering of the 
crop, though representing by far the largest item of labor cost in 
the production, is neither a heavy nor an unpleasant kind of work 
in comparison with the harvesting of many other crops. In com- 
munities of new settlers or where women and children share in the 
outdoor work of the farm, the planting by each family of small acre- 
ages that could be handled without extra labor would be worthy of 
consideration. ‘The lint as it hangs exposed in the open bolls is 
perfectly clean and must be kept in that condition if it is to have the 
highest market value. 

Careless picking diminishes the value of the fiber to the manufac- — 
turer because additional labor and machinery are required to clean 
the carelessly picked cotton and because some of the fiber is turned 
into waste as a result of the cleaning operations. An estimate of 
what it costs the manufacturers every year to overcome by machinery 
and mill labor the results of carelessness and ignorance in the produc- 


tion and handling of cotton would run far into the millions, and even 
into the hundreds of millions. Thus, there is reason to believe that 
refinements in methods of production and handling, like those that 
have been worked out in California for fruits and other special prod- 
ucts, could be applied with very great advantage to cotton. Al- 
though cotton is not a perishable product, its value depends very 
largely upon the condition in which it is placed upon the market. 
Taking into account the experience that agricultural communities 
in California have had in working out and applying special methods 
of production, handling, and marketing their crops, it would seem 
that the possibilities of producing cotton of the highest quality and 
placing it in the market in the best condition are more likely to 
be attained in that State. 

Another advantage of cotton as an element of diversified farm- 
ing is that it is less exigent than most other crops in demanding 
labor at particular times. Cotton can be planted early and thinned 
early or planted late and thinned late if allowance be made by leav- 
ing the plants of the later thinnings closer together. Early plant- 
ings may be made in March or as soon as the danger of cold weather 
is past, but the planting may continue through April and May. 
Even June plantings are sometimes successful. 

Unlike fruits and other perishable products that have to be gath- 
ered and shipped or cured at once or within a very few days after 
the proper stage of maturity is reached, cotton can be picked through 
along season. The bolls open at maturity, but the cotton remains in 
place and in dry weather suffers no injury by being left on the plants 
for a week, or even a month. The picking season may extend over a 
period of two, three, or four months. 

In the interior valleys of California cotton begins to open in Sep- 
tember. Picking probably would commence soon after the grape 
harvest and extend through November or even till Christmas. It is 
better, of course, not to wait too long after the bolls have opened, 
_ for some of the cotton is likely to fall out or become soiled or stained 
from rain or dust. But even these contingencies, while they reduce 
- the value of the cotton, do not result in total loss, as they would with 
many other crops. 


With general reference to the warmer parts of the San Joaquin 
and Sacramento Valleys it may be said that the chief question is not 
whether cotton could be grown or whether its culture could be made 
as profitable as others that are being followed, but whether there are 
communities of farmers who will organize for such an undertaking. 
Some form of organization is a practical necessity for beginning 
cotton culture in a new region. Unlike many other crops that can 


be grown to some advantage even on a very small scale and either 
used in the household or sold for local consumption, an icolated in- 
dividual farmer can hope for no advantage from the planting of a 
small acreage in cotton. 

The beginnings of cotton culture in the South Atlantic States can 
be traced back to the time when spinning and weaving were house- 
hold industries and cotton was made into cloth and used on the 
same plantation where it was raised; but with the modern organiza- 
tion of the industry cotton has become a strictly commercial crop, 
grown only to be sent to market. The effect is to limit the produc- 
tion of cotton to districts where facilities for marketing exist or to 
communities that can begin cotton culture on such a scale as to enable 
these facilities to be provided. 

In order to send cotton to market it has to be etka to separate 
the seed from the fiber, and packed into bales. For both of these 
operations special machinery is required; not ‘very expensive ma- 
chinery, it is true, but too expensive for the individual farmer to 
install for any ordinary farm acreage of cotton. Unless a commu- 
nity appears likely to plant 1,000 acres or more of cotton the in- 
stallation of ginning machinery can hardly be considered advisable, 
either by the community itself or by an independent ginning com- 
pany. It is not absolutely necessary that large acreages be planted - 
the first year, since the cotton from small experimental plantings in 
a new community can usually be shipped to some established center 
where gins are in operation or can be held over in case it is decided 
to plant on a commercial scale during the next year. 

Still larger acreages must be in prospect if a community is to be 
provided with its own oil mill, which is necessary for disposing of 
the seed to the best advantage. Oil-mill equipments are more expen- 
sive than gins, but they are not beyond the reach of large and well- 
organized communities, like those that own and operate fruit-packing 
houses and many similar undertakings in California. 


Control of the gin and oil-mill equipment by the community is 
very desirable, not only for the financial reason of enabling the 
growers to secure a larger share of the profits of the industry but 
also for more directly agricultural reasons. It is out of the question 
to maintain pure stocks of seed without special precautions that are 
very seldom observed at privately operated commercial gins. The 
mixing of different varieties or stocks of seed at the gin is the most 
frequent cause of deterioration of the varieties, the result being to 
destroy the uniformity of the fiber and lessen the commercial value 
of the cotton produced by the community. 


The careless ginning of the cotton may seriously impair the value 
of the fiber, injure the reputation of the product of the community, 
and keep the farmer from getting a full price for his crop. Long | 
staples are more likely to suffer in this respect than short staples, 
for there is greater need of careful ginning. Ginning is often con- 
sidered by oil-mill companies a merely incidental line of business. 

Another way in which ill-advised management of oi] mills has been 
known to interfere with the agricultural development of commu- 
nities is by bringing in and recommending to the farmers seed of 
inferior varieties in complete disregard of the chief interest of the 
community on the side of producing superior fiber. In some cases 
attempts have even been made by the use of financial pressure to 
force upon farmers the planting of varieties that were distinctly 
inferior in quality of fiber, but were supposed to promise profits for 
the oil business. 


In addition to the need of special care to avoid mixing seed of dif- 
ferent kinds of cotton, there is equal need to prevent crossing in the 
field, which is likely to occur whenever two kinds of cotton are planted 
close together or even in neighboring fields. The pollen of:the cotton 
plant is not blown about by the wind, because the surface of the 
grains is sticky and adherent, but bees and other insects carry the 
pollen, sometimes for half a mile or more. The closer the fields the 
greater, of course, is the liability of crossing, so that in thickly set- 
tled communities it becomes practically impossible for the individual 
farmer to maintain a pure stock of a superior variety of cotton. 

The simplest and most effective way to avoid these dangers of 
admixture and deterioration of varieties is for communities to 
organize for the production of a single variety. The variety should 
be determined, whenever possible, by preliminary experimental com- 
parisons of the behavior of the more promising sorts grown under the 
local conditions. The most effective test is to plant several small 
blocks, consisting of four or five rows of each variety, alternately in 
the same field, and to record the pickings of each row separately. 
Such tests are being conducted by the Department of Agriculture in 
cooperation with communities located in different parts of the 
cotton belt. 

With only one variety grown in the community it becomes possible 
to preserve its purity and uniformity by selection. It is useless to 
expect that the fiber will continue to be uniform if the stock is 
allowed to deteriorate through seed admixture or cross-pollination. 
This not only lessens the commercial value of the fiber but diminishes 
the yields, the aberrant plants being less fertile than the normal in- 


dividuals. Failure to maintain the purity of stocks is the basis of 
the popular belief that varieties of cotton soon run out. No variety 
should be expected to remain uniform unless selection is continued 
and admixture with other varieties prevented. 

In addition to this primary consideration of maintaining the 
purity and uniformity of varieties, organized communities can deal 
to better advantage with most of the problems of production and 

marketing of the crop. Cultural methods are likely to be much | 

better understood and more skillfully apphed in a community where 
only one kind of cotton is grown and differences between varieties 
are not being confused with effects of cultural methods, soils, or sea- 
sonal conditions. 

Marketing problems are also greatly simplified in communities 
that can offer commercial quantities of one superior variety of cot- 
ton. The classing of the cotton is a function of the community 
organization, whether done by local talent or by an expert employed 
by the community. Classing is necessary not only for selling the 
cotton at its true value, but for using the bales as security for loans, 
in case the farmer lacks ready money to meet the cost of picking or 
wishes to hold his cotton for better prices. Communities that have 
a regular system of classing and warehousing their cotton are able 
to arrange for loans on better terms than the individual farmer. 

Community action is also very important in relation to insect pests 
or plant diseases. Measures of protection that can be expected to do 
very little good if applied only by scattering individual farmers may 
be rendered very effective if used by the entire community. This is 
notably true of the precautions that are advised against the boll 
weevil, but is likely to be equally so with any other parasite or dis- 
ease that may appear in any district. If only a few of the parasitic 
insects or diseased plants are destroyed, the farmer who takes the 
precautions may fare no better than his more careless neighbors, but 
if it were possible to get action by the entire community the effect of 
any remedial measure would be definitely shown. 


Cotton was grown in California half a century ago, but the early 
attempts were made on a basis of direct competition with the South, 
which could not be maintained when normal conditions had been 
reestablished after the Civil War. The present possibilities of de- 
velopment of cotton culture in California lie in the direction of pro- 
ducing Egyptian or other special types of long-staple cotton. The 
demand for cotton of the Egyptian type is increasing rapidly and 
not likely to be met by increased production in Egypt, where the 
crop is endangered by the invasion of a new insect pest. 


Experimental plantings in the region of Bakersfield indicate that 
the Egyptian type of cotton can be grown in the southern part of the 
San Joaquin Valley. No assurance can be given that Egyptian cot- | 
ton will mature a crop outside of the Bakersfield-Fresno region. If 
plantings are to be made in the northern part of the San Joaquin 
Valley or in the Sacramento Valley, the Durango cotton or other 
long-staple Upland varieties are more likely to succeed, since they 
do not require as long a season as the Egyptian. 

While cotton makes larger demands for hand labor than many 
other crops its requirements for attention at particular times usually 
are not so acute, which renders it well adapted for fitting in with 
other crops to form practical systems of diversified agriculture. 
Labor is needed chiefly at the picking season, which comes in the fall 
after the grapes and most ef the other fruit crops have been 

Although favorable natural conditions may be found in many 
places, it 1s not advisable to attempt to grow cotton on a commercial 
scale except in communities that can be organized for this purpose, so 
as to have an assured prospect of production on such a scale as to 
warrant the establishment, preferably under community auspices, of 
the ginning establishments and oil mills that are a part of the neces- 
sary equipment of a cotton-producing community. 

Farmers in California are advised against undertaking the plant- 
ing of cotton on a merely individual basis, not only because of the 
difficulties of handling and marketing a new crop to advantage, but 
also in order to avoid as far as possible the danger of attempts being 
made to bring in cotton seed either from the cotton belt or from 
Kgypt. Such importations of cotton seed are now forbidden by Fed- 
eral and State regulations, the object being to prevent the introduc- 
tion of the boll weevil from the cotton belt and the pink bollworm 
from Egypt. 

Another reason for advising that efforts to establish cotton culture 
be centralized in communities is that much more effective cooperation 
can be extended by the different branches of the Department of Agri- 
culture that have been working in recent years in cooperation with 
new communities. The nature of the cotton industry is such that 
many things can be done by communities which are impracticable for 
the farmer who attempts to grow and market his crop individually. 

Efforts to establish the cotton industry in new districts have, of 
necessity, to pass through an experimental period in order to deter- 
mine the best variety to be grown, the special cultural methods re- 
quired by the local conditions, the form of organization adapted to 
the community, and the most desirable system of handling and mar- 
keting, as well as to solve other problems that are encountered in 
developing new communities, 


The following publications relating to the Egyptian and Durango 
cotton and to methods of cotton culture that are used in irrigated 
districts of Arizona and southern California have been issued by 
the Department of Agriculture: 

Brand, C. J. Improved methods of handling and marketing cotton. Jn U. S. 
Dept. Agr. Yearbook 1912, p. 443-462, pl. 53-56. 1918. 

Cook, O. F. Cotton improvement on a community basis. U. S. Dept. Agr. 
Yearbook 1911, p. 397-410. 1912. — é 

Cotton farming in the Southwest. Jn U. S. Dept. Agr., Bur. Plant 

Indus. Cire. 132, p. 9-18. 1918. 

Factors affecting the production of long-staple cotton. In U. S. Dept. 

Agr., Bur. Plant Indus. Cire. 123, p. 3-9. 1913. 

A new system of cotton culture. In U. S. Dept. Agr., Bur. Plant 

Indus. Cire. 115, p. 15-22. 1918. 

Single-stalk cotton culture. U.S. Dept. Agr., Bur. Plant Indus. [Misce. 
Pub.] 1130, 11 p., 12 fig. 1914. 

Hudson, E. W. Preparation of land for Egyptian cotton in the Salt River 
Valley, Arizona. Jn U. S. Dept. Agr., Bur. Plant Indus. Cire. 110, p. 17-20. 

Growing Egyptian cotton in the Salt River Valley, Arizona. U. S. 
Dept. Agr., Farmers’ Bul. 577, 8 p. 1914. 

Kearney, T. H. Breeding new types of Egyptian cotton. U. S. Dept. Agr., 
Bur. Plant Indus. Bul. 200, 39 p., 4 pl. 1910. . 

Seed selection of Egyptian cotton. U.S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 38, 8 p. 1913. 

McLachlan, Argyle. The branching habits of Egyptian cotton. U. S. Dept. 
Agr., Bur. Plant Indus. Bul. 249, 28 p., 1 fig., 3 pl. 1912. 

Community production of Durango cotton in the Imperial Valley. U.S. 
Dept. Agr. Bul. 324, 16 p. 1915. 

Martin, J. G. The handling and marketing of the Arizona-Egyptian cotton of 
the Salt River Valley. U.S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 311, 16 p., 3 pl. 1915. 

Scofield, C. S., Kearney, T. H., Brand, C. J., Cook, O. F., and Swingle, W. T. 
Community production of Egyptian cotton in the United States. U. S. Dept. 
Agr. Bul. 332, p. 28-80. 1916. This bulletin contains an approximately com- 
plete list of earlier publications relating to experiments with Egyptian cotton 
in the Southwestern States. 

Taylor, Fred, and Dean, W. S. Comparative spinning tests of the different 
grades of Arizona-Egyptian with Sea Island and Sakellaridis Egyptian cot- 
tons. U.S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 359, 21 p. 1916.