cotton bolls

July 24, 2008

The pickings spent winter an spring drying our in a kitchen. Two or three weeks after being brought inside, the Pima cotton capsules started opening. It was probably another month before the Uplands opened. The Pimas’ rind was thinner than the Uplands’,which might explain the time difference. In the real world, Upland cotton typically matures faster than Pima cotton.

Both Pima cotton plants produced bolls probably suitable for spinning . Some bolls have a four-foil cotton lock configuration, others have five locks. Which bolls were harvested from which plant was not recorded.

All the Upland cotton bolls had four locks

For many bolls, the cotton fiber is not fluffed out as one might one expect. This may be because the cotton capsuled were soaked by several fall storms. Looking closely at the various photographs, one can see convoluted surface , similar to the surface of a human brain’s. Several of these unopened bolls were handled by guests interested in the cotton. Repeated handling caused the cotton to fluff.

Based on my readings and Internet searches, it appears a cotton plant typically needs to produce about 3–4 dozen bolls to pay for itself. With some coaxing, our six plants yielded three dozen opened bolls.

The cotton is light pink taupe, it has not been cleaned or bleached. These staples are probably long and strong enough for spinning

Day #226, harvesting

October 14, 2007

In the Willamette Valley, we usually get one good weekend in October,. Today the crop enjoyed 65F. weather. The crop now receives no direct sun light, and is struggling in the shade. So, this seemed like a good weekend to call it quits on growing cotton.

The larger Pima cotton capsules were removed from branches and brought into the house. These squares are on longer stems, and have been included with the harvesting wherever possible. About six of these capsules might open.


Upland cotton capsules grow on shorter stems. These stems were left on the plant. Hopefully 10-12 squares will open.


A cotton farmer could realistically expect 36-40 squares per plant.

This is the largest Upland square.


Below is a photo of the cotton crop, about a dozen strands of cotton poking out one Upland cotton square. Commercial cotton growers use a desiccant t o dry out the capsule tissue and promote the square to burst. Our weather has been wet, and chemicals beyond Miracle-gro have not been used. The plan now is to place the capsules in an east-facing window, and allow them to dry.


One of the smaller Upland cotton capsules was opened.


This cross section shows a capsule with a thick rind that is far from mature and some cotton.


Seeds were also maturing in the capsule.


An interesting detail is these plants have a kind of sun-sensitivity. On the surfaces exposed to the sun, the tissue is a deep pinkish red, and on the “away” side the color tends to be more green. The Upland is a bit more reactive.


Foliage at the base of the square can also produce the same results.


Same stem, opposite sides


Would I grow cotton again? YES!

Would I make some changes? YUP!

Unbeknown to me, the project was probably off the rails while the plants were still house plants. They should have been spaced farther apart in the window. There was competition for sunlight, and they grew vertically, when lateral growth should have been the priority.

The seedlings in the 8-oz. yogurt containers did better those in the 32-oz. containers. When transplanted to larger outdoor pots, cotton plants in smaller containers were able to be planted without roots shearing from their weight. Fragility of the cotton roots cannot be over emphasized.

The plants should have been planted about two weeks earlier, immediately after a realistic chance of frost had passed.

The cotton plants were treated as water wise plants. Next time they will be watered and fertilized about the same as tomatoes.

The experience was worth while for me, and hope each of the more than 1500 visits to my site you made was also as enjoyable.


Day #203, Oregon Cotton update and photos

September 22, 2007

The Pima cotton plants seem to have quit blooming, and the Upland are down to perhaps their last two blossoms.



Several Pima cotton squares.



An Upland cotton square.


These two Upland cotton squares have bloom tags.

Day #191, several cotton square photos

September 9, 2007

These Pima cotton squares appear to be still filling out their capsules.

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The Upland cotton squares seem be be more mature.


Day #185, Several more photos of the Oregon Cotton project

September 3, 2007

Several Upland cotton blossoms

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A Pima and an Upland square.




Cotton plant tops .  The plants continue putting out squares, even though they will never fruit.





Day #177, several photos of the Oregon Cotton project

August 26, 2007

An eye catching Pima cotton plant blossom.




The next morning, the same Pima cotton blossom was sporting part of a spider web that that spanned several plants.




The next two photos show a Pima and an Upland cotton plant’s first fruiting branch, first position square.


A Pima square




An Upland square.




Late August arrived. The leaves on both Pima cotton plants are starting to show fall colors.


Day #170, Oregon Cotton weekly review

August 19, 2007

The sixth and last cotton plant to bloom, a Pima, finally succeeded.



The spiders continue doing their outstanding housekeeping duties.



One side of this Upland Cotton leaf is turned under to protect a cocoon of spider eggs.



The most developed pollinated Pima cotton square.


Day #162, various photos

August 12, 2007

An exotic Pima blossoms.




A frilly Upland blossom




Some Upland cotton buds about to open




This Pima cotton started growing off at an angle, but is now correcting itself.




Both Pima cotton plants. The foreground plant is the tallest of all six cotton plants. It has many buds, but has not yet blossomed.



The four Upland cotton plants




This weekend the cotton plants will be entertained by the Blue Angels.



Day #161, Upland cotton square appears

August 10, 2007

The Upland cotton blossoming featured in the Day #136 post now has a square starting to protrude trough the husk.


The grove along the square’s top might be one of the four future fissure along which the square opens.

The Pima cotton square is about the same size as the Upland square, but still too far down in the husk to photograph.

Day #146, Pima cotton blossoming begins

July 26, 2007

Day #146, July 26

Time for the Pima cotton plants to strut their colors.

July 26, 10:15




July 27, 09:30






July 28, 14:15


The blossom stopped developing between 13: 15 and16:00 on July 27, looking closely at the photos, one can see degredation begin.