Project Summaries

12-196TX  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes

AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO ENHANCE WATER USE AND DROUGHT TOLERANCE IN TEXAS COTTON PRODUCTION

Carlos J. Fernandez, Texas AgriLife Research

Statewide cotton production could be significantly increased and become more stable with improved best management practices focusing on irrigation management and the use of improved drought-tolerant cultivars, as this would reduce the negative impacts of water deficits on yield and lint quality. Primary objectives of this project were: 1) characterize the water economy of a selected group of cotton genotypes provided by AgriLife's breeding programs and seed companies, discern the associated anatomical and physiological attributes controlling their water use, and transfer this information back to breeders and geneticists to advance the development of drought-tolerant cultivars; 2) evaluate the effects of irrigation methods on growth, lint yield, and fiber quality of commercial cotton cultivars in three cotton-growing regions of Texas (Rolling Plains, Brazos Bottoms, and Southern High Plains); and 3) develop quicker and more accurate methods to measure crop growth and leaf area for wider scale studies and potential farm use. Sixteen genotypes provided by the cotton breeding programs in Lubbock and College Station were studied at the Drought Tolerance Laboratory located at the AgriLife Center in Corpus Christi. Out of the 16 entries, two genotypes showed the most distinct water use patterns relative to the average of all genotypes tested. Genotype 11-13-2010 showed above average daily whole-plant water use upon the start of the water restrictions imposed on June 14. On the other hand, genotype TAM 182-33 showed below average daily whole-plant water use not only after water restrictions started on June 14, but also throughout the days before this date. In a field study conducted in Lubbock, four cotton varieties (FiberMax 9170, Delta Pine 1044, Phytogen 499, and Phytogen 375) were planted on three irrigation levels ranging from severe deficit (no irrigation after squaring) to 0.22 inches of irrigation per day. Throughout the season, we measured plant height, nodes, and maturity by hand. We also measured soil moisture using two methods, and we measured crop height and vegetative index (NDVI) using sensors mounted on a sprayer. At the end of the season, yield and fiber quality were measured, and subplots were mapped by node and fruiting position to determine boll distribution and the relative yields on different parts of the plants. The following observations were made for this trial. Measurements of canopy height were able to cover a wider range of crop growth than were NDVI measurements. Images of the plots are still being analyzed to see if there is a relationship between height, vegetative index, and the actual amount of ground covered by the plants. Soil moisture content followed the irrigation levels closely. At the end of the season, yields and fiber quality were also found to be highly related to irrigation level, but yields were not significantly different among varieties of cotton. Although boll distribution varied between the cultivars in response to irrigation, there was not an interaction between irrigation and variety yields. Quality was related to variety, and irrigation interacted with variety to produce different qualities of fiber. (Note these results are from two coordinated projects funded under 12-196TX and 12-212TX).

 

Project Year: 2012
 

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