While harvesting is one of the final steps in the production of cotton crops, it is one of the most important. The crop must be harvested before weather can damage or completely ruin its quality and reduce yield. In about 140 days after planting or 45 days after bolls appear, cotton bolls will begin to naturally split open along the bolls segments and dry out. When enough bolls have opened naturally, harvest aids are applied to the plant to help speed up the maturation process. This, also, is done either by ground or air application. Defoliation helps the leaves to dry and fall off and to help any of the remaining unopened cotton bolls to open.
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