Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) yield is influenced by tillage, cover crop, and N fertility, but the plant growth and yield component responses related to these yield responses have not been well defined. A field study was conducted from 1991 through 2001 on Gigger silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, thermic Typic Fragidaulf) to determine the long-term effects of tillage practices, cover crops, and N fertilization rates on cotton growth and yield components. Cotton was grown continuously without tillage (no-till) or with surface tillage (surface till) following annual winter cover crops of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), and volunteer winter vegetation in plots receiving fertilizer N rates of 0, 39, 78, 118, or 159 kg ha−1 Tillage practice, cover crop, and N rate significantly affected cotton plant height, main-stem node number, number of nodes above white flower (NAWF), main-stem internode length, lint fraction, percentage first harvest, individual boll weight, and boll number per square meter. Increases in lint yields were associated with increases in plant height (r = 0.73 to 0.95), node number (r = 0.71 to 0.83), internode length (r = 0.44 to 0.91), NAWF (r = 0.65 to 0.90), boll weight (r = 0.12 to 0.86), and boll number per square meter (r = 0.91 to 0.93). Lint fraction showed no association or, in some years, a negative association with lint yield (r = −0.12 to −0.70). No-till management and optimal N rate improved the environment for plant growth, which enhanced several growth parameters and yield components that were associated with increases in yield.