Glyphosate treatments to glyphosate-resistant (GR) cotton can cause increased fruit loss compared with untreated plants, likely due to reductions in pollen viability and alterations in floral morphology that may reduce pollination efficiency. This study was conducted to determine whether both stamen and pistil are affected by glyphosate treatments by measuring seed set from reciprocal reproductive crosses made between glyphosate-treated GR, untreated GR, and conventional nontransgenic cotton. Pollen viability was 51 and 38% lower for the first and second week of flowering, respectively, in GR plants treated with a four-leaf postemergence (POST) treatment and an eight-leaf POST-directed treatment of glyphosate than in GR plants that were not treated. Seed set per boll was significantly reduced when the pollen donor parent was glyphosate treated vs. untreated for the first 2 wk of flowering. There were no significant differences between treatments applied to male parents as measured by seed set at Weeks 3 and 4 of flowering. Seed set was not influenced by glyphosate treatments applied to female parents at any time. Retention of bolls resulting from crosses was reduced by glyphosate treatment of male parents during the first and third week of flowering but was not affected by glyphosate treatment of female parents. The application of gibberellic acid (GA), which has been shown to reverse male sterility in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) and to enhance boll retention in cotton, was investigated for similar effects in glyphosate-treated GR cotton. The GA treatments to glyphosate-treated plants increased the anther–stigma distance 12-fold, stigma height, and pollen viability in the second week of flowering but decreased the number of seeds in second-position bolls on Fruiting branches 1 through 3, decreased the number of first-position bolls per plant, and increased the number of squares in comparison with glyphosate-treated GR plants not receiving GA. Although GA applications to glyphosate-treated GR cotton have some remedial effect on pollen viability, the GA-induced increase in the anther–stigma difference exacerbates the increase in anther–stigma distance caused by glyphosate, resulting in low pollination.
Nomenclature: Glyphosate; cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. ‘Delta Pine & Land 5415RR’, ‘Delta Pine & Land 5415’.