Project Summaries

12-344  Project Manager: E. M. Barnes


Gaylon D. Morgan, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Defoliation of cotton has been referred to as more art than a science by industry leaders. The remnants of leaf material in harvested cotton can significantly increase leaf grade values and result in dockage to the producer. Cotton classed through the USDA-AMS Classing office in Corpus Christi, Texas has reported increases in leaf grade values beginning in 2000, which have resulted in significant financial loss by Texas producers. The impacts of the agronomic variables were studied during the 2010 to 2012 growing seasons and data collected were used to identify possible contributors to increasing leaf grade, including leaf pubescence and harvest-aid treatments. Harvest-aid and harvest-aid by variety trials were initiated in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Variety by harvest-aid trials provided an approach to analyze the combined impact of both factors. All samples were ginned on a miniature gin in Lubbock, and fiber analyses were conducted with HVI. Wide ranges of percent defoliation and desiccation levels were obtained with the harvest-aid treatments but had no significant impact on leaf grade during 2010, 2011, or 2012. In the variety by defoliation trial, hairy leaf varieties of cotton had higher mean leaf grade values than the smooth leaf variety across multiple levels of defoliation in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Overall leaf grades were lower in 2011 due to more suitable weather conditions between harvest-aid application and harvesting. The main points from this study are:

  • Cotton leaf grade was not influenced by the defoliation or desiccation levels
  • Leaf hairiness influences leaf grade more than defoliation when environmental conditions are conducive for higher leaf grades
  • Differences between years indicate specific environmental conditions, such as rainfall after harvest-aid application, increase the probability for higher leaf grade
  • Leaf grades from harvested lint showed that increased trichomes density lead to increased leaf grade at most locations.

Results from this study are being combined with studies in other states and will contribute to the development of a "leaf potential index". The hope is this index will have a broad range for utility, from use by producers when selecting varieties to providing ginners with information to know when additional cleaning may be justified.


Project Year: 2012

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