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From the Ground Up: Heat Beginning to Stress Dryland Cotton

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:52 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Here in our part of the state we have some crops that are irrigated and some that rely on Mother Nature for their moisture called dryland crops. Cotton is a crop that thrives in Texas summer heat, but to do so requires water, and this time of year without rain dryland cotton gets stressed by the heat and will begin to shut itself down. Dale Hoelscher grows dryland and irrigated cotton in Robertson County.

“The cotton plant shoots a square out on the very top down here and then it turns into a flower or a bloom so it can get pollinated basically. What happens then in a day it’ll turn to a pink color and then the flower will fall off and the boll will bloom up underneath it. It’s a beautiful process to watch a cotton plant grow.”

Hoelscher says a cotton plant needs three-tenths of an inch of water a day to keep it going.

“The boll is getting harder. It’s filling up with lint. You can pop the boll open and see the lint. It’s starting to get ready to open up. Once a boll gets to a certain size, it will go ahead and try to finish that boll off, but it can throw a smaller one-off because it knows that it can’t fill it out to make it right.”

Hoelscher says with the heat and lack of rainfall dryland cotton is getting close to being finished growing and producing fruit, but a timely rain now could increase dryland yields.

“Additional rain could still help out because the boll is still soft. It’s still growing lint. The bigger the boll gets the more lint it has and that’s what we sell. We’re really maybe thirty days from harvesting some of the dryland cotton. The irrigated cotton is still growing. It’s still putting fruit on and it could be another month and a half or two months out.”

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