Day #1, cotton seeds arrive

Growing cotton has been one of those going-to-do-someday projects for over five years. Seed availability for the undertaking has been my major difficulty in attempting this adventure. One evening several weeks ago, a Google search on “cotton research” AND university led to an extensive list of potential sources.

Today a box arrived from said institution.

unopened box

The box is opened

the suspense builds

And inside are two two-pound Ziploc bags. One Pima, the other Upland cotton seeds. The Pima seeds are dyed magenta, the Upland are charcoal gray. In the Upland bag were four turquoise seeds, which will be called Turquoise cotton for the time being. At the time of the photograph, three had been discovered

2 pound bag of Pima cotton seed2poundupland-09.jpgTurquoise cotton seed


After several minutes, of handling the Pima seeds, my fingers picked up some dye. Plastic gloves are now worn. The dye washed off my fingers, but am waiting to see what happens to the white kitchen towel which also has some magenta dye on it. Sorry for the poor photo quality, but you can still probably see the problem


stained fingers

Here are some photos of the seeds, scale is inches.

inch-scaled pima seeds2 pound bag of Upland cottton seed


The below photo shows a popping corn seed on the left, next Pima, then Upland, and finally the Turquoise seeds Hopefully you now get a grasp of the seeds’ sizes.


There are approximately 60 Pima seeds/0.5 oz, and 90 Upland sees/0.5 oz.. Someone recently published an article about planting cotton seed on 15” rows, whether this is standard or not, is beyond my knowledge, but at that density, and assuming the same spacing, there are enough seeds to plant a 77’X77′ plot of Pima, and a 95’X95′ plot of Upland.

The seeds have fairly thick covers, a gestimation of say, half that of a lima bean. Soaking then overnight may hasten germination . Trying this with my corn seeds resulted in a stinking mess, hopefully it will work better with cotton seeds. The bottles are stored in a closet containing both water heater and home furnace. Temperature seldom falls below 74-degrees F. The elevated temperature will cause the dissolved oxygen water content to fall, and may somehow adversely affect the seeds’ development. The intent was to start 8 Pima, 16 Upland seeds, and one Turquoise. The photo indicates there may be 17 Upland seeds, whatever.

Pima bottle, top viewUpland bottle, top view

Well, the experiment/escapade is on to grow cotton 1500 miles north of the Cotton Belt. One of the the make or break issue will be weather, apparently it takes about 180 days after the first 2 or 4 true leaves appear of frost-freed days to develop cotton bolls. Starting seeds now, and keeping them in a sunny window might work. Our last frost date is typically late May. With luck, they will be able to be put outside before then. My experience is that tomatoes started and kept inside turn into house plants, and when set out, take several weeks to acclimate to the surroundings. Perhaps cotton will adapt better. The real deal cotton farmers apparently do not plant before the soil is above 65-degrees F, we had snow several mornings this week, and are far from ideal starting conditions.


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