Cotton is made up of 4 different species that can be classified into 3 different groups. There are American cotton (Gossandpium hirsutum L.), Egyptian cotton (Gossandpium barbadense L.) and Indian cotton (Gossandpium arboreum L. and Gossandpium herbaceum L.). The most widespread species is American cotton. This one has a deep and taproot. It has an erect stem with vegetative branches that have a continuous growth. From a certain point on the main stem, fruitful branches are generated which have flower buds. These flower buds with white or cream colored petals are what will end up producing the cotton fibers. The flowers are self-fertile, although they can be pollinated by external agents.
In Spain the cotton crop is not very widespread, but it occupies approximately 65,000 hectares. Its cotton production (raw) is 212,000 tons per year.
It requires deep soils to allow its root growth, with silt-loam textures. It does not tolerate waterlogging well. The optimum pH to grow in the soil is 6 to 8, being sensitive to the most acidic soils. Slightly tolerates soil salinity.
Cotton is a plant adapted to warm temperatures that does not tolerate frost. It needs to grow in a period without frost of 180-200 days, with minimum night temperatures above 15ºC.
For a good cotton crop, approximately 830mm of water are needed per year. Adequate watering must be ensured, especially during the flower opening date up to a month later.
The most used varieties in Spain come from Gossandpium hirsutum and have the general name of Tabladilla (Tabladilla 100, Tabladilla 16…) or Crema 111, Corona and Carmen, among others.