Overall, some varieties respond to irrigation better than others. In general, Stoneville and Americot varieties seemed to have the most positive response to irrigation.

Last year, in the second year of the study, experimental varieties were used, and the researchers got the same kinds of varietal differences as they found with frequently used varieties in testing in 2011.

In the second year of the tests, researchers did a tedious box mapping analysis which gave them a breakdown of which parts of the cotton plant responded most to irrigation water.

In most locations, dryland cotton actually set more bolls on the lower part of the plant. However, increased fruit set on the vegetative branches, or sympodia, especially in the middle part of the cotton plant likely accounted for increased yield from irrigation.

Two experimental varieties from Deltapine and one from Phytogen showed significant yield and quality improvement from irrigation, offering some opportunities in the future for cotton growers contemplating irrigation.

“Location had a big impact on yield response to irrigation, with the biggest coming from Arkansas and the least from Mississippi.

“In South Carolina, we had a consistent yield response of 12-14 percent, and that may be something our growers can hang their hat on when deciding whether or not to irrigate their cotton,” Jones says.



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