Effect of shading on yield, fiber quality and physiological characteristics of cotton subtending leaves on different fruiting positions
The plant growth regulator PGR-IV has been reported to improve the growth, boll retention, and yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) under optimum growing conditions. However, little is known about the response of cotton to PGR-IV under low light stress. A 3-year field study was conducted to determine if applying PGR-IV before an 8-day period of shade (63% light reduction) benefitted the growth and yield of shaded cotton. Shading during early squaring did not affect yield. Shading after the first flower stage significantly increased leaf chlorophyll concentration and fruit abscission and decreased the leaf photosynthetic rate, nonstructural carbohydrate concentrations, and lint yield. Foliar application of PGR-IV at 292 mL ha−1 at early squaring and first flower did not improve the leaf photosynthetic rate of shaded cotton. However, shaded plants receiving PGR-IV had higher nonstructural carbohydrate concentrations in the floral buds and significantly lower fruit abscission than the shaded plants without PGR-IV. Applying PGR-IV to the foliage before shading resulted in a numeric increase (6–18%) in lint yield compared with shaded plants without PGR-IV. The decreased fruit abscission from the application of PGR-IV was associated with improved assimilate translocation. The yield enhancement from foliar application of PGR-IV was attributed to increased fruit retention. However, the average boll weight of shaded plants with PGR-IV tended to be lower than that of shaded plants without PGR-IV. Lint percentage was not affected by PGR-IV. Foliar application of PGR-IV appears beneficial for increasing the fruit retention of shaded cotton.