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Mixed conditions characterize Oklahoma cotton prospects

Cotton conditions vary significantly across Oklahoma, according to reports from North Texas Oklahoma Kansas Cotton, a cotton industry partnership.

“Cotton conditions vary greatly over the state,” says J.C. Banks, Oklahoma Extension cotton specialist at Altus.

“ In southern and southwestern parts of the state, most areas are extremely dry and some cotton has completely cut-out at first bloom. This cotton must have a rainy period to try to recover, and even then, potential is extremely limited.

“In central and northwestern parts of the state, conditions are spotty, but much better than in the southern areas. Dryland cotton in areas around and north of I-40 appears fair to good. Most of this cotton received some critical rainfall during the last of May and in June. This cotton is growing and fruiting well. Overhead irrigated cotton in peanut production areas looks very good. Some is in heavy bloom with excellent yield potential.”

Banks says water supply for furrow-irrigated cotton in the Altus/Lugert irrigation district is limited. “Yield potential depends on August rainfall.”

He says growers should evaluate growth regulator applications. “Cotton that is vigorous and well into fruiting should already have had an application of a Mepiquat-type growth regulator and it may now be necessary to evaluate for a second application.”

He recommends a growth regulator if “nodes above first position white flower is greater than seven or if the internode length four leaves from the top is more than 2 inches, it likely will need a growth regulator. Do not apply growth regulators to stressed cotton, or it will increase fruit shed.”

Banks says cotton farmers concerned about fruit shed may not need to worry.

“Every year we get questions on when the last square that will contribute to yield can be set. Cotton sheds fruit according to the amount of stress the plant is going through. Well-fruited and vigorously growing cotton can shed fruit due to the fruit load already on the plant. Often healthy cotton will go through a shed because of a few cloudy days or slight moisture stress.

“Cotton that is not fruited well probably has already shed some fruit, and if conditions improve will hold onto new bolls later in the season better than well-fruited cotton. With favorable fall weather, blooms produced in late August mature into harvestable bolls, but if the cotton already has a heavy fruit set, mid-August blooms will be the last effective blooms on the plant.”

Banks says a pinhead square requires 21 to 23 days to become a bloom, so under normal conditions a square produced during the first week of August will have time to develop into a bloom by the last week of August and become a harvestable boll.

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