The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the extent to which cotton farming practices studied, developed or otherwise supported through Cotton Incorporated State Support Program (SSP) research have been adopted by growers in the Southeastern region. We are equally interested in understanding the relationship between these practices and the profitability and sustainability of growing cotton.
In August of 2006, Cotton Incorporated contracted with Blue Heron Consulting to develop a methodology for evaluating the State Support Program (SSP) and to pilot test this methodology in the SSP Southeastern Region. Our team reviewed the research topics and associated growing practices where SSP resources have been the most intensively focused over the past ten years and complied these as a Crop Production and Pest Management Guideline. The Guideline was used as the basis for a survey instrument that was incorporated within a large-scale Dillman Total Survey Design Method to gather empirical evidence on the extent to which specific practices have been adopted.
The survey was sent via mail to a random sample of 1,548 cotton growers in the 6 states that compose the Southeast region and results were compiled and analyzed. Of the surveys that were sent, 34% (523 surveys) were returned, of which four hundred and fifty-five (455) were completed and usable (30%). The average age of survey respondents was 51.5 years, and the overwhelming majority (98.6%) was male. Respondents were an experienced group, having been farming for an average of 29 years. The average farm size was reported as 1,260 acres, with an average cotton acreage of 670.