How Cotton is Grown


Cotton is grown around the world in approximately eighty countries. It’s interesting to learn just how cotton is grown. There are two primary methods for growing cotton, the no-till method or the tilling method. The no-till method is also referred to conservation tillage, as it helps to preserve the integrity of the land by preventing erosion.

Planning is required before cotton is grown. Careful thought and consideration should be given to the land selected for planting to increase chances for a successful crop. An irrigation plan needs to be in place. Seed and equipment need to be ready for planting.

The no-till method allows cotton seeds to be planted right through the litter atop the soil by using special farm equipment designed just for this purpose. The machines that plant the cotton are called planters. Specially designed ones make no till planting possible.

With the traditional tilling or plowing method, the farmer tills the carefully chosen land. When plowing the land, mounded rows are created that the seeds are deposited into. The problem with tilling the soil is that it leads to further soil erosion, which takes its toll on the environment over time.

The time to plant cotton varies depending on the planting zone the farmer lives in.
Cotton should be planted as early as possible in spring, but no sooner than the last chance of frost has passed.  Cotton should not be planted before the ground has started to warm up. As cotton has a long growing season, but needs sunny days to thrive, it is best to try to plant as early as possible.

Once the soil is prepared, the seeding is done with man made mechanical planters. These machines which are how cotton is grown can seed as many as 10 to 24 rows at a time.  Machinery like this saves the farmer much time and helps to increase cotton production.

The way that cotton is grown is that the machine planter creates a narrow trench in every row. The seed is dropped into the trench and covered back up with soil which is packed down by the planter. Seeds are spaced in a uniform fashion either clumped or placed individually.

Seedlings begin to appear typically about five days after planting has taken place. In about 2 months’ time, flower buds should begin to appear on the cotton plants. Approximately three weeks later, the blossoms should start to open up. At this time the flower petals begin to change color from a creamy white to yellow, then to pink and finally to dark red. After three days of remaining red, they will shrivel up and fall off, leaving behind green pods which are known as bolls.

Within each boll, the cotton fibers grow and push their way out. As the boll gets ready to be close to ripening, it turns brown. Eventually the expanding fibers break the boll apart and the cotton candy looking cotton comes bursting out. The crop is harvested by picking machines in the United States.

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