Optimization of cotton irrigation termination (IT) can lead to more efficient utilization and conservation of limited water resources in many cotton production areas across the U.S. This study evaluated the effects of three IT timings on yield, fiber quality, and irrigation requirements of irrigated cotton in southwest Oklahoma during three growing seasons. The results showed cotton yield increased with later IT dates, but this response was highly dependent on the amount and timing of late-season precipitation events. Only a few fiber quality parameters were significantly different among treatments, suggesting a more limited impact of IT on fiber quality. When averaged over the three study years, the lint yield was significantly different amongst all treatments, with an average increase of 347 kg ha−1
from the earliest to the latest IT. Additionally, the seed yield and the micronaire were similar for the two earlier IT treatments and significantly smaller than the values under the latest IT treatment. The differences in fiber uniformity and strength were also significant amongst IT treatments. Strong positive relationships were found between yield components and average late-season water content in the root zone. Lint and seed yields plateaued at an average late-season soil matric potential of about −30 kPa and had a quadratic decline as soil moisture depleted. When benchmarked against the latest IT treatment, the earlier IT treatments achieved average reductions of 16–28% in irrigation requirement. However, this water conservation was accompanied with considerable declines in yield components and micronaire and smaller declines in fiber length, uniformity, and strength.
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