This presentation addresses principles and considerations for defoliant and harvest aid use in cotton. Although preparations for harvest are quite diverse across the U.S. Cotton Belt, this presentation outlines the overall purpose and specific functions of these tools, as well as the modes of action of the two primary groups of products: herbicidal and hormonal. Several methods can be used to know when to make applications, and one method is a singularly good tool to confirm timing decisions. Specific “recipes” are not provided (practices are too different across growing regions), but discussion includes how to think about crop conditions, weather trends and threats, retreatment, the calendar, and other factors. A few points are made about minimizing problems with extraneous matter penalties in the classing system.