Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cotton Defoliation

Well, we're up to our eyeballs in cotton harvest, and since I've covered most everything else to do with cotton, I thought I would talk about defoliating cotton!

Here are my past "Cotton 101" posts if you have missed them:

 When cotton is ready in the fall, the bolls start popping open, making the fields turn from green to white. When the bolls are 60% open, we spray a chemical called defoliant. The defoliant is also mixed with a boll opener.

 Both of these chemicals speed up the boll opening/leaf sheding process.  The fields are ready to be picked about 2 weeks later.
 This is what the cotton field should look like when it is first sprayed.
 This is what the fields should look like a few days later. Notice the leaves turning brown?
 A few days later, the leaves are a little more brown and the cotton is a little more white.
 Most of the bolls have now popped open and the leaves have been shed....
It's ready!
 And that's when the fun begins!

Here is a close up of what is happening with the bolls themselves...

Here's a fun fact: Did you know that if the freeze (or a bush hog) didn't kill the cotton plant, it would grow to about 13 feet tall like a tree? Wild cotton does this in the jungles of Africa!

Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about cotton!


  1. Maybe have to grab a cotten plant and try that. Would be neat to see it grow that tall.

  2. I've had a great lesson today in cotton. I was born in West Texas and can remember going to cotton gins with school groups.
    So great to see little Reed growing and obviously so well cared for. I see Henry trying to wrestle him. Some jealousy there?
    You busy gal! Have fun!

  3. How fascinating! We have a huge field of cotton across the highway from us, and I had no idea how it worked. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I've planted cotton before. As a spinner, it was more to spin. I planted white, brown and green. The hard part was picking all the seeds oout of it. I still have some that I need to pick out. I liked watching the cotton plants bloom and produce all those nice bolls.