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Belt catching up to high mic Arizona

`You really don't want to do that,' Arizona Cotton Growers head cautions Marana, Ariz., cotton producer Wiley Murphy has seen the future for his fellow producers elsewhere in the U.S. Cotton Belt, and they are not going to like it.

Murphy, who also is president of Arizona Cotton Growers Association, detailed Arizona's struggle with high micronaire cotton. "Arizona cotton has good length and strength, but it also has high micronaire" and subsequently heavily discounted.

A decade ago U.S. micronaire averaged 4.1. Today it's 4.5. "That is where Arizona was 10 years ago," he said. It has far surpassed that mark, and Murphy predicted the U.S. "could catch up to Arizona in the next two years."

"You really don't want to do that," he said.

Murphy can speak from experience about catching up. On his farm this season, he caught up with his Arizona peers.

He farms in Pima County, far to the south of the major cotton growing areas in Central Arizona where high micronaire has long been a major problem.

"I farm at 2,000-foot elevation and my mic has never average more than 1 percent," he said. "This year it averaged 24 percent overall. I had one variety that was 62 percent 5.0 micronaire or more. Another was 31 percent. One was 11 percent the fourth one was less than 1 percent," he said.

There are other areas of the Belt outside of Arizona that are catching up quicker than others, Murphy noted.

While management practices can impact micronaire, Murphy encouraged and private breeders to take note of the trend and reverse it.

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