Cotton response to mepiquat chloride and temperature
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Gibberellin inhibitor growth regulators are used for cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) canopy manipulation to avoid excess growth and yield losses. However, under temperatures below or over the optimum for cotton production the effect of mepiquat chloride (MC) has not always been significant. In this experiment, cotton plants were grown in growth chambers to study the response to MC as affected by temperature and to determine if an increase in dose could overcome the temperature effects. Mepiquat chloride was applied at rates of 0, 15 and 30 g ai ha-1 at the pinhead square stage. Plants were then grown under three temperature regimes: 25/15 °C, 32/22 °C, and 39/29 °C (day/night temperatures) for 51 days. Higher temperatures increased plant height, reproductive branches, fruit number, fruit abscission, and photosynthesis per unit area, but decreased leaf area and chlorophyll. The largest effect of MC on plant height was observed when the daily temperature was 32 °C, with nights of 22 °C, which was also best for plant growth. High temperatures not only decreased the effectiveness of MC on plant height control, but also caused lower dry matter and fruit number per plant. Low temperatures (25/15 ºC) decreased cotton growth and fruit retention, but a higher concentration of MC was required per unit of growth reduction as compared with 32/22 ºC. At high temperatures, the rate of MC to be applied must be disproportionately increased, because either plant growth is impaired by high temperature lessening the effect of MC, or degradation of MC within the plant is too rapid.