Cotton Update and Plant Growth Regulator Use

Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist July 5, 2013 10:01

Generally the 4th of July means blooms have begun to appear in many cotton fields.  However, give the late start to 2013, blooms will likely not be observed on a widespread basis for another one to three weeks.  Blooms have begun to appear in some of the earliest planted cotton; however, these are the exception rather than the rule.  On average, about 90% of the cotton is squaring at this time and as previously mentioned, blooms are beginning to appear.  From my observations, a good portion of the crop is squaring but blooms are not widespread.  Most of the crop appears to be in fair to good condition but a lesser percentage looks excellent.

Many are beginning to make plant growth regulator applications  and although we make these applications every year, a couple of points should be kept in mind.  First, know the characteristics of the variety you planted.  If your consultant is making PGR recommendations, make sure that they know which variety is in which field.  Everyone knows that different varieties have different growth habits and as such, require different PGR management strategies.  If you planted a variety that has a very aggressive growth habit, a pre-bloom PGR application should be considered.  Conversely, if you planted a variety that will reach the desired size but has a less aggressive growth habit, you may consider holding off on PGR application or reducing the application rate.  Given the dry conditions over the past several weeks, being over aggressive on pre-bloom PGR applications, particularly on varieties that do not have an aggressive growth habit, may hurt more than they will help.

Know your land.  If you are growing cotton on land that is irrigated, fertile, has good water holding capacity, etc. (i.e. good cotton land), you can afford to be somewhat more aggressive with PGRs.  However, if you are growing cotton on some land that is less forgiving, exercise caution when making PGR applications.

Do not make PGR applications expecting to increase yield.  Substantial research has been conducted on PGRs and the results are all over the board.  The primary reason to apply a PGR is to limit vegetative growth.  A shorter, more compact plant will help improve coverage from pesticides and may be easier to defoliate.  In addition, harvest efficiency is greater on a short, compact plant compared to ones that get excessively tall.  Choose the PGR that works best for your operation.  If you would rather handle less material, select a product that has a 2-4 oz/ac application rate.  If cost is your primary concern, use the cheapest (it should still be a reputable product) option that is available.  Research has been conducted on a number of formulations and all appear to provide similar results given equivalent application rates.

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Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist
By Darrin Dodds, Extension Cotton Specialist July 5, 2013 10:01
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