1. Land management. Productive soils should be monitored for proper pH and fertility with good drainage and no compaction. Properly fitted, elevated seed beds are highly desirable. Good land and good weather will overcome numerous mistakes.
  2. Planting. Choose good-quality planting seed of varieties with high-yield and -quality potential and yield stability. Plant for three to four surviving plants per foot of row. Proper in-row plant spacing is at least as important as genetics to earliness. For example, at one to two plants per foot of row, 30 to 40 percent of total yield occurs in the first-eight first-position bolls; at three to four plants per foot of row, 60 to 70 percent of total yield occurs in the first-eight first-position bolls.
  3. Avoid or alleviate stress. Irrigation is the most obvious management tool for drought stress. Drought stress during early boll development will reduce staple length. Good staple length will reduce the odds for high micronaire. Don't wait until it is too late to start irrigating.
  4. Pest management. Adequate insect and weed control is essential for good yields. The objective of producing a cotton crop is to make a profit. Never give up the option to make a profit for convenient weed and insect control. Good yield and quality are essential for making a profit.
  5. Crop monitoring is essential for intelligent production management.
  6. Harvest aid management. A high-quality cotton crop can be lost to poor defoliation management. Good defoliation management is essential to preserving fiber quality and yield potential. This demands an effective crop monitoring program.

Hal Lewis is an independent cotton breeder in Doddridge, Ark.