Laboratory screening test for the evaluation of cold tolerance in cotton
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The decision to plant early leads to a critical question. How will the planted seed perform at cool temperatures? Plants of tropical origin are extremely sensitive when exposed to temperatures below 15°C (Herner, 1986). Cotton, being of tropical origin and therefore considered chilling sensitive (Wang, 1990), has shown reduced germination and stand establishment when planted at temperatures below 20°C (Cole and Wheeler, 1974). Further, planting cotton at sub-optimal temperatures has resulted in a 40% decrease in stand establishment (Staus and Hopper, 1983). The poor establishment encountered in these situations is problematic for producers. To establish a proper stand, farmers must plant extra seed to compensate for low stand establishment associated with cooler planting temperatures. By planting a higher seed population per acre, seed costs increase. Another loss producers may face is a yield decrease, especially if stand establishment is extremely low. To limit losses, a better understanding of chilling injury, a physiological disorder that affects plants at any developmental stage (Wang, 1990), is needed. Further, breeders need to develop new cultivars that have enhanced tolerance to chilling temperatures. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a test that breeders could use to screen their breeding lines for seedling cold tolerance.