Cotton 101 Video: Field Nearing Harvest & Importance of Defoliation

cracked boll on a cotton plantThe cotton crop is nearing harvest and as you can see this field is no longer putting on flowers, the leaves are turning brown and maroon and beginning to drop and more bolls are opening. The field is in Hayti, Missouri.

Unlike the video I shared recently that showed blooms at the top of the plant, this field has stopped putting on new flowers and is focused on opening the remaining immature bolls. Another thing you can see has changed in the crop is the leaves are browning (kind of marooning really). This leads to defoliation and can happen naturally as frost hits or farmers can use crop protection products that encourage defoliation earlier than naturally would occur.

One reason this is important is if the mechanical picker were to go through the field with healthy green leaves, the plant would end up staining the fiber which would lead to a reduction in quality. After all, mills would need to bleach the fiber or something to get out the “grass stain” that would be on the lint before it even went to the gin. And the problem would just keep getting worse as the bales went to be spun into yarn or woven/kit into textiles.

Knowing this, cotton is graded based on color and the amount of foreign matter in the lint after its been ginned. Those grades are a key part of determining the price a farmer receives per pound.

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About Janice Person

I'm Janice & this blog is about my passions -- photography, travel, agriculture & whatever else comes to mind. Putting all those things together is intriguing to me…. I can spend a lot of time soaking it up! It's almost always a colorful adventure!

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