Definitions and Terms in Cotton Production


Square: A fruiting bud that forms on lateral branches. Each branch can have from 1 - 4 fruiting positions on average.

First square: The initial fruiting squares are formed on the first fruiting branch.

Pinhead square: The very first stage at which a new square can be identifies.

Match head square: The second stage of square development following the pinhead square stage.

Flowering: The blooming period of the cotton plant. Flowers result from maturing squares. Once flowers pollinate, ovules develop into cotton fruit, or bolls. This stage is indeterminate and can last for 6 weeks or more.

Peak bloom: Period of maximum bloom production, between early bloom and cut out.

Cut out: The growth stage when the flower development ceases.

Boll: The cotton fruit. It consists of burrs (the shell), fibers and seeds. The bolls start to develop following pollination and go through 3 phases: enlargement (3 weeks), filling (3 weeks), and maturation. Under typical conditions, approximately 50 days of growth are needed after pollination for the boll to open prior to harvesting.

Bale: Once cotton is harvested, raw cotton consisting of seeds and leaf trash are packed into modules. The modules are stored in the field or on the gin yard until ginning. Once complete, the resulting lint is “baled”, and these units are sold on open market and are delivered to mills. A bale of cotton lint weighs from 480 to 500 lbs.

Ginning: The process that separates the cotton fibers from the cotton seeds. The term “gin” is an abbreviation for engine, deriving from when the first mechanical gins were developed in the late 18th century.

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Trey Cutts
Trey Cutts
Crop Manager, Row Crops