Cultivation of Cotton Crop

Cotton is primarily grown in dry tropical and subtropical climates at temperatures between 11 degree C and 25 degree C. It is a warm climate crop threatened by heath or freezing temperatures (below 5 degree C or above 25 degree C), although its resistance varies from species to species. Excessive exposure to dryness or moisture at certain stages of the plant development (lasting 5 to 7 months) may be detrimental to cotton quality and yields, and might also kill the plant.

The seeds should be planted in well-prepared moist soil with high nutrient supplying capacity. Indeed, the cotton plant is particularly weak and its moisture and nutrient uptake is remarkable. Cotton production tends to exhaust the soil, which may require some soil management practices typically by means of physical adjustments, fertilization, and crop rotation (notably with a culture of leguminous plant and one of cereal). Moreover, the root system of the cotton plant is particularly developed and penetrates downward deeply (its depth can sometimes double the height of the surface stem). Flowering generally starts one month and a half to two months after the crop is planted. Blooming will continue regularly for several weeks, even months, as long as growing conditions are suitable. After flowering, the inner part of the bloom gradually develops into a fruit (called "cotton boll. Cotton bolls burst open upon maturity, revealing soft masses of fibres. Cotton harvesting is then possible. The cotton is picked either manually or mechanically. Manual picking is a very labour intensive and time-consuming task, and may be rather expensive. However, it generally produces quality lint with limited amount of trash, since cotton bolls are picked by hand as they burst open upon maturity. Cotton is harvested mechanically by cotton pickers (the most commonly used) or cotton strippers, which remove all the cotton bolls.

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