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Ripening cotton

Posted by glennpatrick Zone 5 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 16, 08 at 19:09

I planted cotton as an ornamental this year but have been so happy with the plant that I am planning on saving the seeds. The problem is that I have only had about 5 plants have the cotton actually open.

Has anyone had luck with bringing the plants inside to hang and dry? The boles seem large and tight. Any ideas?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Ripening cotton

If you want Seeds why would you bring them inside? In north Texas the weather takes care of curing the plants. If you have large boles they aren't grown commercially as they are very small down here in Texas. The last time I saw a large bole was when I was a child. Down this way they spray them to kill the plant so the cotton is easier to harvest. I would think one plant would be all you would need for seeds, but they all should have good seeds once they are open.

RE: Ripening cotton

Wally-1936, no disrespect meant, but coming from Houston, Texas, you may not realize just how heat dependent cotton, like many Southern crops, can be. It's pretty difficult in northern climates to get it to mature enough to produce viable seeds. We have this problem trying to grow many heat-loving plants. They may survive, to some extent, in our region, but never really thrive, because our climate is just too cool for these plants to produce the amount of sugars in their tissues that they need for good growth. One of the best explainations of this phenomenon is in the book "Palms Won't Grow Here, and Other Myths," by Dr. David Franckel, a professor of Botany formerly with the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio. I highly recommend his book for anyone interested in growing southern plants in cooler northern climates.

Cutting and hanging MAY prompt a few of the most mature of the immature (if that makes sense!) pods to open, smaller, younger ones never will. Be cautious, though, in using seeds from the open ones for sowing, as they may not all be mature enough to germinate.

I've had the greatest success with cotton by growing it in large pots and keeping it right in the greenhouse throughout the summer, with one or both doors kept open 24/7 during the warmest parts of the summer, shutting the doors at night later on as nights cooled, and finally, keeping the doors shut night and day in October when temps finally dropped a lot. By this method, I can extend the growing season by about 4 to 6 weeks, and also increase the heat units the plants get.

RE: Ripening cotton

I give cotton about a month's headstart in the greenhouse to make sure I will have enough time to get ripe boles in September. They continue to ripen until frost, which is about a week early for me this year-it will be tonight, dang it.
I did not grow brown fibered cotton this time, but I can send you a few seeds from white and/or green fibered types; equally good ornamentals, if you are unable to harvest any.

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