Michael Bange, Robert Long, Jane Caton, and Darin Hodgson
CSIRO Agriculture and Food, LMB 59, Australian Cotton Research Institute, Narrabri, 2390, Michael.Bange@csiro.au
Australian cotton systems rely heavily on chemical harvest aids allowing for mechanical harvest. Poor timing of application of these chemicals can reduce both fibre yield and quality, and lead to increased costs at harvest. Too early applications increase the amount of immature fibre, reducing yield and affecting spinning and dye uptake during textile processing. Too late applications subject crops to weathering from rainfall, reducing both harvest efficiency and optimal fibre colour. Novel methods assisting decision making at the time of harvest aid application have previously been developed. These include determining the risk of fibre entanglement (neps) formation at harvest, an estimation of the potential final crop fibre micronaire at harvest, and the development of a mathematical relationship between the proportion of immature bolls with traditional measures of overall crop maturity. Neps and micronaire are related to both fibre and crop maturity. Utilising independent datasets, this study further validated these novel methods for Australian cotton systems and highlighted their utility for assisting with harvest aid timing decision. This paper also makes recommendations on how these approaches may be used in conjunction with sensing technologies to further assist in maintaining crop yield and quality.