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Water use efficiency of narrow row cotton

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A field experiment was conducted on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California to determine water use, crop growth, yield and water use efficiency of Acala (SJ-2) cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) grown in 0.5 m spaced rows on a Panoche clay loam soil (Typic Torriorthents). Evapotranspiration was determined by water balance techniques utilizing neutron soil moisture measurements. All neutron measurements were made within a 3 m soil profile in 0.20 m increments. The measured evapotranspiration was compared to climatic estimates of potential evapotranspiration, and to calculations using a one-dimensional soil water balance model that separately computed soil water evaporation and plant transpiration. Crop growth was determined by weekly destructive plant sampling. Leaf area was determined along with dry matter components of leaves, stems, fruiting parts (flowers and squares) and bolls. Final yield was determined by machine harvesting (brush stripper) 720 m2 from each plot. Lint yields and fiber quality were determined by sample ginning and fiber analysis at the U.S. Cotton Research Station at Shafter, California. Three irrigation regimes were established that resulted in an evapotranspiration range from a high deficit condition to full irrigation at the calculated atmospheric demand.

The measured evapotranspiration of narrow row cotton under a full irrigation regime was 778 mm, 594 mm under a limited irrigation regime and 441 mm under a regime with no post-plant irrigation. The evapotranspiration from these irrigation treatments was accurately simulated by a water balance model. that used inputs of potential evapotranspiration, leaf area index, soil water holding capacity and root development.

The average lint yield from narrow row cotton with a full irrigation regime was 1583 kg/ha, the average lint yield from a limited irrigation regime was 1423 kg/ha and the average lint yield from a treatment with no postplant irrigation (fully recharged soil profile at planting) was 601 kg/ha. The full irrigation regime resulted in a dry matter production of approximately 16 t/ha while the limited irrigated regime produce 11 t/ha and the no-postplant irrigation regime produced 7 t/ha of dry matter. The fiber quality results indicated significant (0.05 level) differences only in 50% span length and micronaire, with the 2.5% span length, uniformity index, elongation and strength indicating no difference.

Cotton lint yield was found to be directly related to total evapotranspiration although the relationship was slightly non-linear while dry matter yield was found to be linearly related to evapotranspiration. Both lint and dry matter yield were found to have a linear relationship to estimated transpiration from the water balance model calculations.

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Contribution from the Unived States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Western Region and the University of California

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Howell, T.A., Davis, K.R., McCormick, R.L. et al. Water use efficiency of narrow row cotton. Irrig Sci 5, 195–214 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00264608

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  • Fiber Quality
  • Irrigation Regime
  • Water Balance Model
  • Lint Yield
  • Cotton Lint