Cotton Production Techniques
Climate: Cotton is a crop of subtropical climate. Cotton needs on an average a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit for germination, 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit for vegetative growth, 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit with cool nights during fruiting period. An annual rainfall of at least 50 cm is the minimum requirement for cotton cultivation unless it is grown on irrigated soils. Ultimately rains and the heavy humid weather during later stages of cotton cultivation may spoil the produce, lower its ginning properties or promote attack of insect, pest, diseases. Weather should be clear at harvesting because rain will discolor the lint and reduce its quality.
Soil: Cotton needs a soil with an excellent water holding capacity and aeration and good drainage as it cannot withstand excessive moisture and water logging. The major groups of soils for cotton cultivation are the alluvial soils, black soils, and red sand loam.
Seed Rate and Spacing: Depending upon the variety, soil type, the cultivation practices and method of sowing, seed rate and spacing have been recommended. A seed rate of 15-25 kg/hectare and spacing of 75-90 cm between the rows is generally recommended for irrigated conditions. For dryland cotton, a seed rate of 12-16 kg/hectare and spacing 45-60 cm between rows are adopted. For Dryland American Cotton, seed rate is 12-16 kg and spacing is 60-75 cm between the rows.
Optimum planting time: Sowing of cotton begins as early as the first week of February in South Texas and as late as the first week of June in northern areas of the Cotton Belt.
Fertilizers: fertilizer application differs from region to region depending upon available nutrients in the soil. For dryland cotton crop, 20 kg of nitrogen, 18 kg of phosphorus and 78 kg potash is economical. Nitrogen is applied in split doses, a half dose at the time of sowing and the other half as top dressing during thinning or just before flowering. For irrigated cotton this dose can be doubled.;
Water Requirement: The irrigated cotton crop is mostly sown after a preliminary heavy irrigation and second light irrigation is given three to four weeks after germination. Subsequent watering depends upon the nature of the soil and the weather conditions.
Flowering and boll formation are critical stages with regard to irrigation. Inadequate irrigation schedule during these stages leads to a heavy shedding of flower buds and bolls. Generally, cotton crop needs 6-8 irrigations and 600-800 mm of water during its lifetime.
Cultivation Practices: Before planting, the soil is plowed, loosened and harrowed to make the soil suitable for cultivation.
Interculture: Weed control begins 30-40 days after sowing. thinning of cotton is a special feature of the irrigated crop.
Diseases and Pests: Cotton aphids, Cotton jassids are controlled by spraying Malathion 0.08%. Cotton leaf roller, Spotted bollworm, pink bollworm are controlled by dusting crop with 10% carbonyl whereas red cotton bug and dusky cotton bug are controlled by dusting 5% BHC
Optimum Harvesting Time: Cotton is harvested in three or more pickings at suitable intervals. The season of harvesting varies with of sowing and duration of the variety. Well, dried bolls are picked either manually or through harvesters.