Cotton Response to Tillage and Cover Crops

H. Bloodworth and J.R. Johnson


Cotton response to two tillage systems [conventional (CT) and no-till (NT)] and four cover crops (crimson clover, hairy vetch, wheat, and cool season weeds) was evaluated from 1989 to 1991. Soil type was a Grenada silt loam (Fine-silty, mixed thermic Glossic Fragiudalfs) near Coffeeville, MS. Experimental design was a split plot with cover crops as main plots and tillage systems as split plots. Cover crops, except the cool season weeds, were established each fall by using a no-till drill. Three weeks prior to planting cotton, cover crops were terminated by applying glyphosate in NT plots and by disking twice in CT plots. Canopy cover of the cover crops was measured from February to mid- April each year. Dry matter (DM) yield was determined at termination. Destructive cotton plant samples were taken from each plot at four, eight, twelve, and sixteen weeks after planting in 1989 and 1990. Wheat produced significantly (P>0.05) more canopy cover from February to late March than the legumes and weeds. However, in mid-April, canopy cover of hairy vetch was comparable to that of wheat. Highest DM yields were produced by wheat during two of the three years. No- till cotton produced significantly higher seedcotton yields in 1989 and 1991 than CT cotton. Plant component weights were significantly higher for NT cotton in 1989. Cover crops did not influence seedcotton yield or component weights. Economic analyses indicated that NT cotton decreased total production costs and that, of the planted cover crops, wheat was the most economical.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1994 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pg. 1601
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998