How to improve cotton quality

Plant revenue generation relates both to yield and quality. Quality is dictated by the target market, it is relating to the attributes required of the buyer.

An ideal fertilization program will be one that enables nutritional-status balance to be perfectly maintained throughout, in this way maintaining the quality aspects of the cotton crop. Guideline information, procured from focused research, can be used to facilitate nutrient-balance management.

This information can take the form of leaf norms, for leaves sampled at a specific stage and adopting a particular method of sampling. Nutrient incorporation, in quantitative and relative terms, in the various plant parts as growth and development occurs, can also serve as valuable information to maintain balance. Soil attribute and nutritional status norms are also important in order to assess the nutrient status, and should be used.

Guideline data should therefore be procured from superior performing plants, in terms of revenue generation, revenue being a function of target market requirement and yield.

In cotton, it is the fiber quality that counts. It derives from a variety of factors, the most important being:

  • The plant's physiology
  • The variety
  • Timing of defoliation
  • Timing of harvest
  • Agronomic practices

The fibers are actually hairs that grow out of the seed coats. Some epidermal cells make long lint hairs, other cells stop growing before they are too long and are called fuzz hairs. Different varieties of cotton hav specific characteristics and percentages of each type. The fiber development initiates upon pollination of the flower, and goes through 3 stages of development, Elongation, Secondary wall thickening (maturation), and Drying.