Rain improves outlook for Oklahoma cotton

Recent rains should help cotton yield and quality, “if the plant was developing bolls at the time of rainfall. Initiation and development of new bolls will depend on severity of the drought prior to the rainfall, and if we have a warmer or cooler than normal fall season,” says J. C. Banks, Oklahoma Extension cotton specialist says.

“In a normal season, plant fruiting is orderly and continuous. Under normal drought stress, plants continue to produce squares, but fruit will shed shortly after blooming.

“Under severe drought stress plants cut out and terminal growth stops, resulting in no new squares in the top of the plant.”

Banks says new blooms have to go through the entire squaring process, two and a half to three weeks, so first new blooms since rainfall will occur near the middle of September. To produce bolls, the first of these late blooms would need exceptionally warm fall weather until the mid-November.

“If drought stress has not been as severe, squares will be present in the top of the plant,” Banks says. “These squares normally shed within a few days following bloom if the plant continues to be drought stressed. If rainfall is received, normally squares at or nearing bloom will shed, but half to two-thirds grown squares will continue to develop and initiate blooming 10 to 15 days earlier than plants that have been severely drought-stressed and do not have squares in the terminal of the plant.

“Even less-stressed plants, will initiate blooming at the end of August or September 1. This is normally near the end of our effective fruiting period, but with favorable fall weather some of these blooms will develop into harvestable bolls.”

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