How to Grow Cotton | Tips from Seed to Harvest

Cotton is grown in black soils with sufficient water resources.

Since the root of the plant grows very deep into the soil, it can resist drought for quite a long, unlike other crops.

Hence, it is also grown widely in rain-fed lands.

The crop is one of the major cash crops and hence is widely preferred for cultivation.

The cotton raw material is a fiber that can be used for clothing and bedding. It has a large demand in the markets.

However, the quality of cotton decides the price of the final product.

This quality depends on many factors like the seed, soil, environment, rainfall, and pests.

How to Grow Cotton Plants

Cotton can be grown in lands with water resources like tube wells or river irrigation systems. It is also grown in lands with sufficient rainfall during the wet season.

Types of cotton

  • Long-staple cotton: length of fiber is 24 to 27 mm.
  • Medium staple cotton: length of fiber is 20 to 24 mm
  • Long-staple cotton: length of fiber below 20 mm. it is inferior among all types.
 how to grow cotton


Cotton cultivation is possible in different kinds of soils like the

  • well-drained alluvial soils
  • black soils of varying depth and
  • red soils.

Cotton is moderately tolerant to salinity and sensitive to waterlogging conditions. Hence, well-drained soils are suitable for cotton cultivation.


Cotton is a semi-xerophyte crop.

It can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.

The minimum temperature required for better germination in cotton is 15oC.

Whereas for better vegetative growth, cotton crops need a temperature range of 21-27oC.

It can tolerate temperatures up to 43oC but temperatures below 21oC show an adverse effect on crop growth and development.

Land preparation

  • For better growth and development of the cotton crop, good land preparation is necessary.
  • It can be done by plowing and harrowing the land twice or thrice.
  • Plow the field to obtain a fine tilth.
  • Add 12.5 t farmyard manure or composted coir pith per hectare besides chiseling to get increased yields of cotton


Cotton is mainly propagated by seed.

Sowing is done during the onset of the monsoon.

However, sowing between the End of May end to Mid June will provide good yields.

Avoid sowing cotton after July 15th

It is a good practice to sow the cotton seeds after rain.

This is because the soil is moist with sufficient microbial activity to support germination.

Seed rate

The seed rate is 1-kilo grams per hectare in hybrid types and 3-5 kilograms in high-density planting.


  • Spacing will differ depending upon various factors.
  • Like, method of planting, type of soil, the variety used, etc.
  • Generally, a spacing of 120 cm between rows and 45-60 cm between plant to plant is followed in black cotton soils.
  • In high-density planting, very low spacing is followed compared to the standard planting methods like 45-60 cm × 10-15 cm.


  • Apply 4 tonnes of farmyard manure per acre during the last plowing and plow it well.
  • General fertilizer recommendation for cotton is
  1. 36: 18: 18-kilo grams of Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash in the case of American types.
  2. 38: 24: 24 kilograms of Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash in the case of American types.

Nitrogen and potassium fertilizers need to be applied in 3 – 4 split doses during crop growth and development.


  • In the early growth stages of cotton, water requirements are lesser compared to the other growth stages.
  • However, on average, it requires 150 to 200 cm of rainfall, and the water requirement is highest during flowering and boll development.
  • It is usually flood irrigated, but irrigation by furrow or alternate furrow method is more effective and water-saving.
  • But in hybrids, drip irrigation is gaining importance.
  • In cotton, irrigation should be provided at 50-70% depletion of available soil moisture. In sandy loam soils, 3-5 irrigations are commonly given.


To control the weeding in the initial stages of growth, spray pre-emergence herbicides like fluchloralin 45 % at 1 liter per acre before 3-4 days of sowing.

After one month after sowing spray Targa super at 400 ml per acre. Along with chemical sprays, manual weeding should be carried out at regular intervals.

Pests and diseases of cotton

  • The cotton plant is mostly destroyed by infections and insects.
  • So, keep a regular watch on changes in the color of the leaf, bud, leaf cuts, etc.

If so, spray suitable pesticides or insecticides to control them.


Jassids /Aphids:


Methyl demeton or Dimethoate @ 400-600 ml/ha.



Endosulfan at 1.5 liters per ha should be a spray to control thrips.



Triazophos @ 600-800 ml/ha.Or neem product @ 2.5 litre  per ha.



Single-time spray of Endosulfan or quinalphosorChloropyriphosat 2.5 lit per hectare will control these bollworms. Spraying of synthetic pyrethroids 500 ml per hectare and HNPV at a rate of 250 ml per hectare will works effectively against bollworms.


Bacterial blight:


Spray with streptocyclin (0.01%).

Fungal leaf spots:


Copper oxychloride (0.25%).

Grey mildew:


Spray wettable sulfur (0.2%) or carbendazim (0.1%).

Boll rot:


To control the boll rot, sprays of carbendazim or copper oxychloride are recommended.

Root Rot:


Drench the plants in an affected patch with carbendazim (0.1%). Select resistant varieties that are resistant to root rot. Apply around 24 kilograms of ZnSo4  per hectare of land.

Leaf Curl:


Choose resistant varieties: LRK-5166, HS875, LHH-144, and LRK-516, etc. all these varieties possess resistance to leaf curl.

Leaf reddening:


Irrigate the field and spray MgSo4 1% or Urea 2%, followed by DAP 2% at the time of initiation of leaf reddening.


A cotton crop can have approximately eight rounds of cotton ball pods. It is hard to cash on all the rounds.

So whenever the cotton pods are matured into cotton, collect them.

To get good quality seeds, the time of picking is significant. Picking should only be done when the cotton is fully mature, i.e., when the bolls begin to open. Several pickings are necessary since bolls ripen every two to three months. Early cotton-picking gives slightly better seeds for germination as compared to late pickings. The cotton picked from late-formed bolls (last pickings) should not use for seed extraction.


By using hybrids and adopting good management practices, we can reap yields up to 800–10000 kg per acre.

Frequently asked questions and answers.

Does cotton need a lot of water to grow

Cotton needs sufficient water and can tolerate dry conditions. However, for better yield, it may need irrigation during boll formation.

What are the conditions required to grow cotton?

Fertile soils with sufficient humidity are essential. Also, proper seed treatment and avoidance of pests are essential.

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