Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Use of ambient or internal boll temperatures to calculate heat units for cotton defoliation.

Evangelos Gonias, Derrick Oosterhuis, and Androniki Bibi. University of Arkansas, 1366 Altheimer Dr., Fayetteville, AR 72704

Questions have arisen about the accuracy of the COTMAN accumulated heat units rule (i.e., 850 HU’s after NAWF=5) to determine when to defoliate. It has been suggested that the actual temperatures of the developing bolls in the canopy may not be closely represented by ambient temperatures measured in a meteorological site.   The objective of this field study was to compare the current method of timing defoliation using ambient air temperature with actual boll temperatures. Internal boll temperatures were about 5°C warmer than ambient temperatures at midday and similar at night. There were no differences in boll temperature at different depths, 0.5 and 1.0 cm, in the boll, and there were no cultivar differences. A predictive equation (y=0.5298x+19.387) was formulated to determine internal boll temperatures using ambient temperature. Comparing these two methods of calculating heat units showed that using boll temperatures, 850 heat units were accumulated about 8 days earlier than when using ambient temperatures.  Furthermore, 60% of the time, the use of ambient temperature did not allow sufficient time to accumulate 850 heat units before the end of September. Future studies will use these two predictive methods to schedule defoliation and determine the effect on yield and quality.