A little wilting early in the season isn’t the worst thing for cotton. In fact, it’ll probably make for a more robust plant later on.

“Based on our experience, cotton that is stressed early in the season actually does a little bit better later in the season,” says Glen Ritchie with the University of Georgia Soil and Crop Science Department. “You don’t have to use as many PGR’s, it’s going to be less prone to late water stress because, it’ll have a more extensive root system and less above-ground vegetative growth, and it’ll have a more robust vascular system as well.”

Ritchie talked about cotton water use during the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences held in Atlanta.

As water efficiency becomes increasingly important, cotton producers need to know when a plant needs water the most, and when it doesn’t, says Ritchie.

“When it comes down to it, even in Georgia, which has a pretty humid climate, we’re using much more water for agriculture than for home use. So anything we can do to be as efficient as we can with water, but continue to have good crop production and good quality, is important,” he says.

In Georgia, about 1 inch of water is going to cost between $12 and $20 to pump, and different amounts of water are used at different times, says Ritchie.

“There also are decisions to be made about different types of irrigations systems to be installed or the type of systems that you already have installed,” he adds.

When there is inadequate water going to the cotton plant, the plant is going to invest more energy into producing fruit because that’s where the plant will find water, explains Ritchie.