Cotton is an annual plant that requires a long, warm growing season to mature properly. Needs full sun. In zones 8–10 it can be sown directly after the last frost. In zones 5–7, treat like tomatoes, start seed indoors and transplant out 4–8 week-old seedlings after last frost. Seed germinates in 7–21 days at 70°F. Plant 18–30 in. apart in rows 5 ft. apart. Plants start flowering in mid-summer. Bolls take a few more months to mature; warm late summer weather is necessary for a good crop. Plants grow to 5–6 ft. tall.
135 days. Seeds are easier to remove from the lint than other cottons. Staple length is longer than other heirloom brown cottons. Spun cotton has some shine.
Direct Sowing: Sow seed in a light, well drained, slightly acid to neutral soil. Supply soil generously with compost or other organic matter, especially in clay. Sow no deeper than 2 - 4 times the seed diameter. Do not sow in waterlogged soil or heavy clay.
Transplanting: Use a good quality sterile seed starting mix. Sow pots or flats 4 - 8 weeks before transplanting. When several leaves have developed, harden off the seedlings by placing them outdoors in direct sunlight for no more than an hour. Gradually increase the outdoor exposure over a period of several days. Transplant to the garden after the last frost.
Harvest: Wait for bolls to split open before harvesting.
Seed Savers: Isolate varieties by 1/8 mile for home use, or 1/4 to 1/2 mile or greater for pure seed.
NOTE: Virginia gardeners must acquire a permit to grow cotton. For more information, contact your nearest extension agent.
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