The First Forty Days after planting is the most critical stage of the cotton crop. The crop’s yield potential is determined during this period. As the plant and the crop move into the midseason fruiting period, they must be healthy and uniform in order to produce optimum yield and fiber quality.
The optimum cotton crop at 40 days after planting:
• Stress Free. Regardless of the tillage and crop production system, the optimum cotton crop will be free of stress from insects, mites, nematodes, seedling diseases, weeds, and other manageable factors, such as fertility levels and water availability.
• Healthy Plants. An optimum cotton crop at 40 days after planting would be a picture of health. In addition to being stress-free, the crop will exhibit healthy leaves, with roots extending into the row middles, and plants growing rapidly and uniformly. Earliness is important, with a height-to-node ratio of at least one (1:1) at 40 days after planting. The optimum plant will have seven to eight nodes and will be in the early stage of squaring.
• Uniform stand; adequate plant population. Crop uniformity relates to optimum plant health, but its impact on season-long crop management is significant. A uniform crop allows for a more efficient crop management system, which ranges from timing of herbicide and plant growth regulator applications through harvest aid and crop termination timing. An adequate plant population will be at least 30,000 plants per acre and will not exceed 60,000 plants per acre. The minimum stand would have at least two healthy plants per foot, with no intra-row gaps greater than two feet.
First Forty Days and Fruiting to Finish
First Forty DaysBest Management Practices