Dry, hot weather is placing stress on all dryland cotton and some irrigated cotton, says J.C. Banks, Oklahoma State University Extension state cotton specialist at Altus.
“The stressed cotton is at the cutout stage in many areas, and yield potential will be further limited if rainfall is not received soon,” Banks said. “Cutout is officially determined when the top of the plant is within four to five nodes of the uppermost first position white bloom, but it can also be easily determined when we start observing blooms in the top of the plant.
“Producers refer to this as 'blooming in the top.' In healthy plants, the nodes above white flower should be seven or eight at first bloom, and decrease by approximately one node per week during blooming. We have not only been observing this in dryland cotton, but also in irrigated cotton when water is short or root growth has been inhibited,” Banks said.
“In some fields, we are observing what an Extension specialist in Louisiana refers to as suspended cutout. The nodes above white flower stay the same and the plant continues to fruit for several weeks.
Banks said growers may need to evaluate irrigation scheduling. “If the fields are getting plenty of water, the next thing to look for is nitrogen or other nutrient deficiency caused by a restricted root system. In these situations, a foliar nitrogen application could extend fruiting, allowing the plant to hold one or two more bolls.”
For dryland fields, Banks recommended farmers “hunker down” and wait for rain. “A rainfall soon will cause some small bolls to drop, but new growth will initiate and new squares and blooms will develop in the top of the plant. These new squares need to be on the plant by mid-August to produce a harvestable boll.”
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