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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388749

Research Project: Effective Cotton Genetics and Management Practices for Improved Cotton Quality and Production

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

Title: Cover cropping history influence on cotton boll distribution, lint yield, and quality

item Billman, Eric
item Campbell, Benjamin - Todd

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2021
Publication Date: 1/15/2022
Citation: Billman, E.D., Campbell, B.T. 2022. Cover cropping history influence on cotton boll distribution, lint yield, and quality. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Winter annual cover crops play an important role in southeastern US cotton production. Small grains such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) fill winter production gaps, minimize soil erosion and weed pressure, and provide double-cropping potential. However, other species have the potential to provide greater returns to the producer. One such species is carinata (Brassica carinata A. Braun), an oilseed crop grown primarily for biofuel production. Late harvest and high stover remnants for carinata, however, can potentially delay establishment of cotton and affect plant morphology. The objective of this research was to assess cotton boll distribution, lint yield, and lint quality when grown following three winter management systems: cotton-fallow, cotton-wheat, and cotton-carinata. This study was conducted at the Clemson Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence, South Carolina, with cotton planted in June 2020. Plots followed a complete block design of four replications, all managed identically. Prior to harvest, plants were sampled from 1 meter of row for end-of-season plant mapping and plant population assessment, then harvested for lint yield and subsampled for lint quality. Plant mapping results indicated that cotton-carinata had the greatest (P < 0.001) total number of bolls (19 bolls/plant), as well as the greatest monopodial (2 bolls/plant) and sympodial (10 bolls/plant) bolls (P < 0.01) compared to cotton-fallow or cotton-wheat. However, lint yields between the cotton-fallow (1027 kg/ha) and cotton-carinata (944 kg/ha) did not differ but were greater (P < 0.05) than the cotton-wheat treatment (805 kg/ha). Regarding lint quality, only small differences in micronaire were observed, with cotton-wheat (P < 0.05; 4.4) being the lowest. These results indicated that cotton following carinata significantly altered plant boll distribution but did not affect lint yield or lint quality compared to the fallow control, making carinata a suitable cover crop for pairing with cotton in the southeastern US.