Arizona Farmers – True Water Stewards

07-13CFcvrBy Tommy Horton

Once a year Cotton Farming devotes an entire issue to water topics that have implications for cotton production across the Belt. And July is certainly an appropriate time for discussion – regardless of where the crop is being produced. This is the time of year when the need for water seems to be at its highest level for thirsty crops in the early stages of development.

In previous years we’ve talked about how cotton producers have always done their part in being good stewards of water. This month we’re taking a broader view of the subject, which is so vital to all producers.

We start out on pages 8 and 9 with a snapshot view of what Arizona farmers continue to face in their quest for reliable access to water. Sometimes this state doesn’t attract the national attention that occurs in other parts of the Belt. But make no mistake about it. Arizona has been in a 10-year drought, and cotton farmers are doing their best to cope with the situation. This is in stark contrast to areas such as the Mid-South where excessive spring rains delayed planting.

As you’ll find out, it isn’t just the drought that makes for a difficult environment. It’s the competition from urban populations as everyone tries to gain access to the Colorado River basin. Arizona producers David Wuertz and Lance Layton share some thoughts about how they are dealing with this ongoing challenge.

Access to water is a major obstacle for Arizona agriculture. In addition to an over-allocated Colorado River, farmers have to abide by restrictions as a result of water settlements with local Indian tribes. In short, it isn’t easy growing cotton in this part of the country, but the resolve of these farmers is remarkable. They are being proactive – even in the shadow of a drought.

You’ll find other water-related stories in this issue, including an update on page 12 from Cotton Incorporated on its latest research on irrigation and water-use efficiency. Senior Writer Carroll Smith has written an informative story on page 13 about how furrow irrigation has become more popular for farmers in the Mid-South. And, finally, Southeast Editor Amanda Huber has provided a report on water issues from her region. You’ll find her Web Exclusive at

Will today’s water problems affecting cotton production ever improve? They will if farmers work together to find mutually acceptable solutions with their neighbors – and if they continue to use efficient practices to preserve this essential resource.

It would also help if it rained more in Arizona.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to:

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