Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cotton Elementary: From Bloom to Boll

Since I’ve been to Cotton Elementary, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. I have a great teacher. He’s at least got a cotton graduate degree! I grew up seeing cotton growing on the side of the road, but it is still fascinating to me that my shirts are made from the fruit of a plant. (If you don’t want to learn about cotton, come back tomorrow! I’m sure there will be more pictures of Blair posted by then.)
cotton elementary 0810 (26)
I took some pictures of some of Brad’s cotton on Saturday after we were collected watermelons for the chickens. I’m sure that it is not the cotton that Brad would have had me photograph to show everyone because it is dry land cotton (not irrigated), and until Sunday we had not had a real rain since spring. But it was next to the watermelons, it had all the parts I needed to take pictures of, I had some good shade from clouds, and I had my camera – sounds like perfect cotton to me! I also chose to photograph from the edges so I could get better shots. I have to say that my husband is an amazing cotton farmer, and this is not a display of my his best cotton! Now. That’s done, and we can move on to our schooling!
One thing I don’t think I ever noticed is that cotton blooms. It actually has really pretty blooms. First though, it has to have squares. Yes, squares.
These are squares. The square is the part from which grows a bloom and then a boll.
cotton elementary 0810 (40)
cotton elementary 0810 (37) More squares.
From the center of the square emerges a white bloom.
cotton elementary 0810 (35)
cotton elementary 0810 (5)cotton elementary 0810 (9)  In the picture on the right, you can see the square!
The bloom turns a beautiful pink. If you see a cotton field blooming, you can see white and pink blooms at the same time.
cotton elementary 0810 (22)  You can still see the square below the bloom as well as some other squares and a white bloom in the background.
cotton elementary 0810 (10) The blooms seem to be more closed when they are pink.
After the bloom turns pink and dies, the bowl starts growing from the center of the square.
cotton elementary 0810 (30)A boll with dead bloom on top.
I found one branch that had a good example of three stages from bloom to boll.
cotton elementary 0810 (19) From the right: pink bloom, little boll, big boll!
cotton elementary 0810 (14) More bolls.
We can look at a boll and tell how many locks it has. They usually have four or five. When the boll opens, each lock will have a nice poofy piece of cotton. Brad likes the five lock bolls because they are nice and big! And we had a pretty cute five lock boll for Halloween last year!
cotton elementary 0810 (23) cotton elementary 0810 (24)
A five and a four lock boll.
I recently learned that a cotton plant puts on fruit from the bottom to the top. When cotton is “blooming out the top” (a term I overheard not too long ago), it has put on all of the fruit that it is going to have. If this happens too early or after very little rain, it means that the plant won’t have as much fruit as it could have had in better conditions.
cotton elementary 0810 (41) In this picture, you can see bolls on the bottom and blooms that will soon be bolls on the top.
cotton elementary 0810 (58) And here you can see white and pink throughout the field.
I hope that this was even half as interesting as I find it and that you learned something! Two more lessons follow. I just have to tell you about pigweed, and in the fall, we’ll do two bale cotton (which I hope we have LOTS of!).
**This information is all from my previous lessons (many lessons). Brad didn’t read behind me – he’s never read my blog at all actually (that’s why I get to talk bad about him – ha!). The only thing I looked up was how to spell “lock.” If you are a cotton expert, and I’ve said something wrong, I apologize. Please correct me.


AA said...

I love reading about this! Looking forward to lesson 2 and 3 on cotton. Like how do they get it off the plant efficiently?

Unknown said...

That is cool. Do you want a lesson on peaches or pecans?

mountain mama said...

wow, i had no idea about the blooms and squares and such.

too bad you didn't do a lesson in gergia poisonous berries before our trip to pick grapes :)

great blog. can't believe brad has never read it. he's missin' out.