Planting To Early Square Stage

During the growth stage a large percentage of the overall root system of the cotton plant is being developed, which will be used for nutrient and water uptake by the crop throughout the remainder of the growing season.

  • Much of the crop’s final yield potential is also being determined at this time, making efficient crop management a high priority.
  • After seed selection, proper management begins with seedbed preparation and planting.

Cotton Development

Seasonal development of cotton showing the production pattern of squares, bolls, and open bolls.

Cotton Development Graph

Early Bloom To Cutout Stage

Management of the crop’s nutrient and water needs becomes the primary concern after the plant reaches the early bloom stage.

  • Water stress from late square through this period will cause the greatest percentage of yield loss, while nutrient deficiencies will result in smaller bolls and reduced fruit retention. This is also when plants are highly dependent on nutrient availability and fiber quality is being determined. With so many final yield and fiber-quality elements hanging in the balance, crop management is still extremely important at this time.
  • Apply glyphosate with a residual herbicide as needed to reduce late-season weed pressure and any potential host plants for late-season insects.
  • Continue to protect first- and second-position bolls from insects not targeted by the Genuity® Bollgard II® gene.
  • During peak boll loading, crop water may exceed two inches per week. Water stress during this period will lead to fewer flowers and bolls being produced, higher abortion rates, and reduced lint yield.
  • Continue monitoring internode length and nodes above white flower (NAWF). Additional plant growth regulator sprays may be needed if new internode lengths exceed three inches, particularly when NAWF are greater than seven.
  • Ask your WinField representative for a NutriSolutions® tissue analysis to ensure nutrient levels are within sufficient ranges.
  • Cutout occurs when NAWF equal four to five. Scout and manage insects for an additional 350 to 400 DD-60s (degree days) or twenty days to protect harvestable bolls.

Early Square to Early Bloom Stage

During this time, root growth begins to decrease as the plant puts more emphasis on reproductive growth.

  • The plant begins to lose the ability to produce new roots at the same rate as older roots begin to age and die. As this change begins, rooting patterns also tend to shift while moisture in the upper soil layers starts to decrease.
  • ​This root loss, coupled with the increased demand for nutrients, becomes critical as plants are developing new branches every two and a half to three and a half days, and initiating new first-position fruiting sites every three days.
  • Water and nutrient stress can reduce fruiting sites and the photosynthetic surface area needed later to retain and mature bolls, leading to yield loss.
  • It is imperative to retain as many of these first-position sites as possible, because they contribute the highest percentage to final yield and fiber quality.
  • The following management strategies should be used during this stage:
    1. ​Apply glyphosate with tank-mix residual herbicides as needed to obtain effective weed control.
    2. Monitor and control insects based on action thresholds. It is important to use insecticides at recommended rates before economic injury occurs.
    3. Apply mepiquat chloride products or other labeled plant growth regulators during early bloom stage if plants are growing vigorously.
    4. Plant growth can be monitored by measuring the height-to-node ratio. This is the average internode length and can easily be determined by dividing the height of the plant in inches by the number of nodes. As a general rule, the height-to-node ratio prior to early bloom should be in the 1 to 1.5 range. If the ratio increases beyond this range, a plant growth regulator may be necessary.
    5. Because cotton is very sensitive to boron, manganese and zinc deficiencies, ask your WinField representative for a NutriSolutions® tissue analysis to ensure nutrient levels are within sufficient ranges.

Temperature and Cotton Growth

Graph of temperature effects on cotton growth