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Irrigation in Cotton

Irrigation in Cotton (Gossypium sp.)

 Soil type

Crop duration

Irrigation interval

No. of irrigations

Depth of each irrigation (cm)

Total crop water requirement (cm)

Black soils

180 days

20 days

5 -6

6 cm

80 - 90 cm

Light/red/sandy loam soils

170-180 days

15 days

8 -10

5 cm

80 - 90 cm

  • Schedule irrigation at 0.6 IW/CPE throughout the crop growth.

Methods of irrigation

  • Adopt furrow method of irrigation with following specifications.
  • Adopt Alternatively Alternate Furrow Irrigation (AAFI) in heavy soils (Vertisols), which saves time, labour, irrigation water (to the extent of 30%) and minimizes the long term ill effects of irrigation on soil properties.


In heavy or black soils

In light or red soils or sandy loam soils

Furrow length

100-150 m

60-90 m

Slope in furrows

0.1 - 0.2 %

0.2 -0.4%

Stream size

2 - 3 lit/sec

3 - 4 lit/sec

 Critical stages of irrigation

Critical Stages of crop growth

Days after sowing (DAS)

Sympodial branching and square formation stage

45 -50

Flowering and fruiting stage

75 - 85

Peak boll formation

95 - 105

Boll development and boll opening stage


  • Heavy and frequent irrigation enhances the vegetative growth leading to ineffectiveness of plant protection measures, resulting in higher incidence of pest/diseases.
  • Provide drainage in heavy soils to avoid water logging due to low infiltration rate
  • Under canal command areas where in the canal opening is not assured at scheduled time, ensure early sowing with protective irrigation by open/bore well water.
  • Under constraints of irrigation water, foliar spray of Kaolin (60 g/lit) with 1 g teepol or soap, at 3 days after last irrigation reduces transpiration losses from the crop canopy, thus helps the crop to utilize the available soil moisture efficiently.

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