Improving profitability through research

Cotton Incorporated is often associated with agricultural research breakthroughs and advancements. In fact, the company's dedication to overall cotton research and development impacts the bottom line of growers. Cotton's bounce-back from the 1970s is amazing, and growers should be proud that their company, Cotton Incorporated, stepped up to its charge and has led the U.S. Upland cotton industry into the 21st century.

Dr. Jeanne Reeves, production economist in Cotton Incorporated's Agricultural Research Division, is currently working with two computer programmers on a software program which combines production and accounting features. A valuable asset of the program, which Reeves and the programmers have developed, is one-time data entry. Similar programs available for producers require repeated entries.

Currently, software test studies are being conducted by groups of growers in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Kansas. The importance of these groups is three-fold: they provide a “grower's perspective” on the software and its features; assist in determining necessary information for cotton producers' records; and, have contributed to designing reports that allow simple analysis of the information. Once it is entered, the information gives producers the capability to make better and more informed management decisions.

Reports on chemicals, crop insurance and GPS mapping are available within the production component of the software. “The great thing with the chemical report is that it meets all EPA requirements in case of an audit,” says Reeves. Information entered into the software is done on a field-by-field basis, so if the EPA requests a list of chemical applications for three different fields, a producer can easily supply the list with an application date for each chemical.

Database search

Additionally, the program gives producers the ability to search through the database and extract needed information to compare the profitability of several enterprises.

For example, a producer could compare current chemical costs on a field to the previous year's cost. “Our ultimate goal is to make recordkeeping more grower-friendly, thus leading to more informed decisions on a field to field basis,” explains Reeves.

The product software also includes a harvest page. According to Reeves, everything a producer would consider valuable information for his operation and for the gin can be seen on this page. Currently, the harvest page includes items of frequent interest such as yield and quality from certain fields or varieties and AMS Smith-Doxy data The software's other feature, accounting, will be a valuable tool for small operations. It features an enterprise analysis and payroll option. Specifically, producers can pull information on certain employees, on withholding taxes, for example, and compare that information with prior years. An important achievement in programming is that users can now pull the financials on certain crops with information entered in production records. According to Reeves, advancements Cotton Incorporated and its outside software provider have made during the past year are regarded as major accomplishments.

‘Lot of progress’

“Within the past year, we have seen a lot of progress with the recordkeeping software,” adds Reeves, “Our test groups provide valuable feedback and have contributed greatly to helping the programmers make the software more useful to cotton producers.”

“My goal is to help cotton producers better track their production costs and highlight economic opportunities or pitfalls, which should assist them in making more informed decisions,” says Reeves. As always, maximum profit from every dollar invested in the crop is at the core of all Cotton Incorporated agricultural initiatives. Cotton Incorporated's impact to the U.S. cotton industry can be seen throughout the Belt. For more information on Cotton Incorporated or the project mentioned above, visit their web site at or contact the Agricultural Research Division at 800-334-5868

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