Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Economics

Major Professor

Luther H. Keller

Committee Members

T.J. Whatley, Joe A. Martin, Larry L. Bauer, Curis F. Lard, John G. Stovall, Charles P. Butler


The general objective of this research was to provide information that will help Tennessee farmers make rational decisions concerning methods used to produce cotton and thus prevent inefficient use of resources and improve cotton's competitive position in fiber markets. The specific objectives were: (1) to determine costs of machinery used for cotton production in Tennessee on various sized farms; (2) to analyze costs associated with alternative methods of land preparation, fertilization and seeding, weed and grass control and harvesting used by cotton producers in the State; (3) to determine what relationship existed between expenditures for selected inputs, lint yields and production costs per pound of lint; and (4) to estimate the efficiency of resource use in cotton production by average and innovator farmers.

Data for the analysis were obtained from three sources--cotton producers in Tennessee who were innovators, average cotton producers in the State, and field size experimental cotton plots produced at Ames Plantation. Data from innovators on their 1965 and 1966 cotton crops and from average producers on their 1965 crop were obtained by survey techniques. Detailed records were kept on experimental cotton plots produced at Ames Plantation by a student in Agricultural Economics.

The analysis of machinery costs on farms of different sizes revealed that unit cost of machine use varies greatly for most machines depending on the amount or volume of annual use. Costs per hour, excluding labor, for 17 to 24 and 25 to 34 horsepower tractors decreased by $.87 and $1.27, respectively, when annual use increased from 200 to 1200 hours. Costs per hour for 65 and greater horsepower tractors declined by $.52 when annual use increased from 600 to 1200 hours. Total costs per acre, including labor, associated with a self-propelled high-clearance sprayer ranged from $2.90 when used on 550 acres each year to $2.38 when used on 1400 acres.

Another major part of the machinery cost analysis encompassed determination of tractor and implement combinations which could be used to perform field operations required for cotton production at lowest cost per acre and how total cost per acre for performing each operation varied with different levels of annual implement use. The cost per acre for performing most field operations declined at a faster rate when annual implement use increased from a low to a medium level than when it increased from a medium to a high level.

The cost per acre for shredding stalks decreased $.61 when the number of acres which a shredder was used on annually increased from 60 to 206 compared with a decline of only $.19 when the number of acres covered annually with a shredder increased from 206 to 380. The cost for turning land decreased an average of $.02 for each acre increase in annual implement use from 40 to 60 acres compared with a decline of only $.003 for each acre increase in annual implement use from 60 to 400 acres.

Analysis of costs associated with alternative combinations of cotton production practices indicated that land could be prepared for cotton at the lowest cost per acre by shredding stalks, disking, turning with a moldboard plow and disking and harrowing in the same operation after turning. When this combination of practices was used to prepare 80 acres annually, total cost per acre was $7.86. When 380 acres were prepared annually, total cost per acre was $5.11.

Band row placement of mixed fertilizer was found to cost less per acre than broadcast application with a farm spreader and tractor when the implements were used on up to 310 acres annually. With more than 310 acres broadcast application with a farm spreader and tractor cost less per acre than band row placement. When fertilizer was broadcast on less than 80 acres each year, custom truck spreading cost less per acre than application with a farm spreader and tractor.

The most efficient combination of weed and grass control practices consisted of a broadcast application of pre-emergence herbicide with cultivation and hand hoeing. The analysis of alternative harvesting methods indicated that a one-row tractor-mounted picker should be used when between 50 and 250 acres of cotton are harvested annually. If timeliness of the harvesting operation is important, a two-row tractor-mounted stripper should be used when there is less than 150 acres of cotton to be harvested during the year. A two-row self-propelled picker should be used instead of a stripper when more than 150 acres are harvested annually.

Analysis of factors associated with different levels of cotton production costs revealed that variation of lint yield per acre was a major factor contributing to variation of production costs per pound of lint with seed. The relationship between production cost per pound of lint and lint yield per acre was inverse with larger yields contributing to lower production costs per pound of lint.

Estimates of the level of efficiency attained in use of selected inputs for cotton production by innovator and average producers indicated that geometric mean expenditures per acre for the inputs by innovator producers were greater than the economic optimum level. Estimates for the average producers indicated that average expenditures per acre for fertilizer, herbicides, and insecticides were below the economic optimum level and above the economic optimum level for seed, labor, and power and equipment.

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