Genetic and environmental influences on cold tolerance of cotton seedling germination



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Texas Tech University


The Southern High Plains of Texas represents the largest contiguous cotton production area in the United States with over 3.5 million acres planted annually. The Texas High Plains cotton producing region is faced with the challenge of a short growing season. Due to the high elevation and the dry air, cool nights associated with cold fronts are common during the planting season and during the latter part of the boll maturation period. These conditions can keep the mean daily temperature below 15°C and minimum temperatures can drop below 10°C. Temperatures below 15° will not provide adequate heat required for germination and growth or fiber maturation. Lowering the temperature requirement for germination and growth would provide added insurance for early season germination and seedling establishment, extend the growing season, and allow cotton production to move fiarther north on the High Plains. During the germination phase, cotton is very sensitive to chilling injury if soil temperatures drop below 15°C and temperatures at or below 10°C for a few hours can cause serious damage with long term consequences. Soil temperatures at planting can vary greatly from day to day depending upon air temperature, radiation and precipitation events. Subsequently, it is desirable to have varieties that possess the ability to emerge rapidly under differing soil temperature conditions. A nonuniform stand of weak seedlings is a common result of low temperatures during the planting season. Providing a uniform stand of seedlings, as early as possible in the growing season, is critical to the High Plains producer already faced with a short growing season.