Domestic cotton has a unique origin and history among cultivated crops. The wild ancestors of modern cotton species were perennial vines that inhabited several distinct geographic areas, including Africa, Arabia, Australia and Mesoamerica (Mexico & Central America). Five distinct species of cultivated cotton were developed: Egyptian, Sea Island, American Pima, Asiatic and Upland.
Wild cotton is a tropical perennial plant with an indeterminate fruiting habit, meaning that it continues to produce new foliage even after it begins to create seed, and can grow very tall under conditions of unrestrained growth. Despite its inherent perennial growth habit, however, cotton is managed as an annual crop plant. Continued vegetative growth after flowering diverts the plant’s energy away from lint and seed production, promotes boll rot and makes cotton crops difficult to harvest.
Potential yields vary with varieties and climate; however, with proper irrigation management, yields in Israel reach 6-7 ton/ha (lints & seeds) and 2-2.5 ton/ha (lints). Growth regulators, such as mepiquat chloride, can be applied to cotton to slow internode elongation, especially for well-fertilized irrigated cotton.
For successful cotton growth, the following conditions are necessary:
1. Long growing period of 180-200 days with no frost
2. Sufficient ground moisture
3. Plenty of light—cloudiness of above 50% inhibits growth
4. Relatively high temperature

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