Late planting of short-season cotton in saline fields of the Yellow river delta
Normal planting of full-season cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) (NPF) in saline fields of the Yellow River valley, China, is currently faced with poor stand establishment, late maturity, and increasing cost of inputs. Our objective was to determine if late planting of short-season cotton (LPS) may alleviate these problems. In the first experiment, the effects of cultivar, planting date, seeding rate, and their interactions on stand establishment and seedling Na+ and malondialdehyde concentrations were studied. We also compared varietal effects, input costs, and gross economic returns under NPF and LPS. Late planting improved stand establishment due to increased temperature and reduced Na+ and malondialdehyde concentrations in cotton tissues. The LPS at 21 kg seeds ha–1 (LPSM) and NPF at 30 kg seeds ha–1 (NPFH) yielded better than other treatment combinations. Varietal effects on lint yield were not significant. The output value of both systems was comparable; however, the net revenue from LPSM was 32% greater than that from NPFH due to lower material cost and labor inputs. Late planting of short-season cotton is a promising option for cotton production in saline areas of the Yellow River delta and probably in other cotton-growing areas with similar ecologies.