Temperature Effects on Cotton Fruit Retention
Temperature is a major environmental factor that affects cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production. Temperatures of 35 to 40°C are frequently observed in cotton-producing areas. High-temperature environments are sometimes associated with cotton sterility and boll retention problems; however, there is little specific information available on cotton sensitivity to temperature. We conducted a series of experiments in naturally lit growth chambers where the temperature was accurately controlled so we could measure its effects on cotton fruiting site production, abscission of flower buds (squares), flowers, and bolls. Cotton plants grown from seedlings at 40°C for 12 h d−1 shed all their squares. Plants grown from seedlings in the natural environment, then exposed to daytime temperatures of 30,35, or 40°C during the fruiting period accumulated 47, 5.7, and <1%, respectively, of their mass as bolls. The time of day when plants were exposed to high temperature did not influence percent boll retention. Number of bolls produced, bolls retained, and percent retention were progressively reduced as time per day at 40°C was increased. Three week exposure to 40°C for 2 or 12 h d−1 resulted in 64 or 0% bolls, respectively, retained on the plants. Cultivars appeared to be similar in sensitivity to high temperature. Cultivars tolerant to short periods of high temperature would probably be more productive in today's environment and increased tolerance to high temperature will be even more essential in a warmer environment.
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