Drought is the No. 1 factor that limits agricultural production in the world, thus, making crops more drought tolerant is a major goal in agriculture. Many genes with functions in abiotic stress tolerance were identified, and overexpression of these genes confers increased drought tolerance in transgenic plants. The isopentenyltransferase gene (IPT) that encodes a rate limiting enzyme in cytokinin biosynthesis is one of them. Interestingly, when IPT-transgenic cotton was field-tested at two different sites, Texas and Arizona, different results were obtained. To explain this phenomenon, reduced irrigation experiments with different timing in applying water deficit stress were conducted. It was found that the timing of water deficit stress is critical for IPT-transgenic cotton to display its yield advantage over control plants (i.e. wild-type and segregated non-transgenic plants). If water deficit stress occurs before flowering (vegetative phase), IPT-transgenic cotton would outperform control plants; however, if water deficit stress occurs at or after flowering (reproductive phase), there would not be a yield difference between IPT-transgenic and control cotton plants. This result suggests that an early induction of IPT expression (before first flowering) is needed in order to realize the benefits of IPT-expression in transgenic plants that face water-deficit stress later in development.