Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 May 2019
Recent commercialization of auxin herbicide–based weed control systems has led to increased off-target exposure of susceptible cotton cultivars to auxin herbicides. Off-target deposition of dilute concentrations of auxin herbicides can occur on cotton at any stage of growth. Field experiments were conducted at two locations in Mississippi from 2014 to 2016 to assess the response of cotton at various growth stages after exposure to a sublethal 2,4-D concentration of 8.3 g ae ha−1. Herbicide applications occurred weekly from 0 to 14 weeks after emergence (WAE). Cotton exposure to 2,4-D at 2 to 9 WAE resulted in up to 64% visible injury, whereas 2,4-D exposure 5 to 6 WAE resulted in machine-harvested yield reductions of 18% to 21%. Cotton maturity was delayed after exposure 2 to 10 WAE, and height was increased from exposure 6 to 9 WAE due to decreased fruit set after exposure. Total hand-harvested yield was reduced from 2,4-D exposure 3, 5 to 8, and 13 WAE. Growth stage at time of exposure influenced the distribution of yield by node and position. Yield on lower and inner fruiting sites generally decreased from exposure, and yield partitioned to vegetative or aborted positions and upper fruiting sites increased. Reductions in gin turnout, micronaire, fiber length, fiber-length uniformity, and fiber elongation were observed after exposure at certain growth stages, but the overall effects on fiber properties were small. These results indicate that cotton is most sensitive to low concentrations of 2,4-D during late vegetative and squaring growth stages.
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