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Effects of Plant Density on Boll Retention and Yield of Cotton in the Mid-South

Jack C. McCarty, Johnie N. Jenkins, Russell W. Hayes, Martin J. Wubben
American Journal of Plant Sciences 2017 v.8 no. pp. 891-906
Gossypium hirsutum, bolls, branches, field experimentation, lint cotton, plant density, planting, risk factors, value added, yield components
The number of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) plants being grown per unit of land area has gained attention due to the technology fees associated with seed containing value added traits. We investigated boll retention, yield, and yield components of cotton grown with reduced stands of 20% to 40% from the uniform planting pattern of four seeds per 30.5 cm of row. Five field experiments were conducted from 2012-2014 using eight treatments arranged in a randomized complete design with six replications. Yield and yield component data were collected. The plant one-row skip one-row treatment resulted in significant yield losses across all five experiments compared to the uniform planting pattern. Treatments with 20% stand reductions did not result in lower total yields; however, each plant in these treatments had to produce two additional bolls to maintain yield. Treatments which had at least 61 cm skips, 40% stand reduction, resulted in lower yields. Treatments had minor affects on boll weight, and lint percentage. The uniform planting pattern produced 67% of its yield from position one bolls compared to about 50% for treatments with reduced stands. Reduced stand treatments produced about 20% of their yield on monopodial branches compared to 10% for the uniform treatment. With modern precision planting equipments, opportunities exist to reduce seed rate and maintain yield; however, many production risk factors must also be considered before a reduced seeding rate is adopted.