Modeling management of continuous dryland cotton with an intervening winter wheat cover crop in a semiarid climate Academic Article uri icon


  • Although winter cover crop residue can mitigate the stresses of dryland production in semi-arid regions, cover crops can also reduce soil moisture and cash crop yields. In some field studies of dryland cotton grown after terminated winter wheat in the U.S. Southern High Plains (SHP) and Texas Rolling Plains cotton yields were increased relative to continuous cotton, while others had no significant yield or soil water effect. These uncertain outcomes may be due to the trial's limited sampling of seasonal rainfall conditions. To estimate the probabilities of cover crop effects under more representative SHP climate conditions, 294 station-years of crop model simulations of terminated winter wheat followed by dryland cotton were conducted. These simulations were driven by weather data from 21 SHP weather stations during 20052019. Each station-year's simulations were repeated under 54 combinations of wheat planting, termination, and cotton planting dates, 2 soil series with different water capacities, and 10 initial soil moisture conditions. When simulations begin with fall soil moisture at field capacity optimal management options for both soils plant wheat early and cotton late, but have different wheat termination dates. Before cotton planting winter cover crop effects are dominated by reduced surface evaporation and increased transpiration, with greater transpiration effects producing decreased column soil moisture (CSM) at wheat termination. Some soil moisture recharge occurs between termination and cotton planting, but cover crops reduce CSM at cotton planting in both soils in ~75% of simulations. Reduced soil evaporation and soil moisture recovery continues after cotton planting, resulting in positive effects on seed cotton yield in 50% of the silty clay loam simulations and in 67% of the fine sandy loam simulations. Gradually reducing initial fall soil moisture in the silty clay loam reduces wheat biomass but increases the incidence of positive effects on seed cotton yields and CSM at cotton planting and harvest. By contrast, drier initial soil moisture in the fine sandy loam had relatively minor yield and CSM effects. In both soils terminated wheat residue led to increased CSM at cotton harvest in at least 70% of the simulations regardless of soil moisture at wheat planting.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Mauget, S., Himanshu, S., Goebel, T., Ale, S., Payton, P., Lewis, K., & Baumhardt, R. L.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Mauget, Steven AA||Himanshu, Sushil KK||Goebel, Tim SS||Ale, Srinivasulu||Payton, Paxton||Lewis, Katie||Baumhardt, R Louis

publication date

  • January 2022