Will foliar feeding seedling cotton increase yield?
Work in this area indicates that foliar feeding seedling cotton, even stressed cotton, will not generally result in increased yields. The appearance of the cotton may be helped, but it is very rare that a yield response will occur from such a treatment.
Stress from being too wet or too cool is generally the problem, not necessarily a nutrient deficiency. The argument heard is that the plant can't take up nutrients, so foliar feeding will keep it going and "kick if off." If the plant is under so much stress that it cannot take up nutrients from the soil, what can it do with nutrients applied to its leaves?
If you are leaning toward foliar feeding seedling cotton, here are several things to consider.
A small seeding covers only a small area. The products sold for this purpose are low analysis to start with and are recommended at rates in the 1 quart per acre range. For example, consider a product that is about 9 percent nitrogen and weighs 12 pounds per gallon. If the recommendation is to apply 1 quart per acre broadcast, that comes to 0.99 pounds of nitrogen per gallon, or 0.2475 pounds per quart. You are putting out 0.2475 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Leaf area covers perhaps 1 percent or less of the surface acre. How much of the applied material contacts the plant? How much of the applied material gets into the plant?
If the plant is under stress, uptake of the material that actually gets on the leaf surface is greatly reduced. As you can see, not much of the product gets into the plant to do anything at all. If some nutrients do get into the leaf, and if the plant is under stress, what will it do with them? At that point, nutrient deficiency is not the problem. Fertilizer corrects nutrient deficiency, not other problems.
A noted physiologist and graduate student, in a nearby cotton state, did a study on foliar-feeding, stressed seedling cotton. Several treatments were involved, but none had any real positive effect. In fact, the best looking treatment, visually, was 10 gallons total volume per acre of water.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rain, cool weather, more rain and some wind have slowed cotton maturation, but since the crop was a little behind schedule, the damage may be less than if harvest were already underway.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said recent weather is causing some yield loss, but it is hard to estimate how much.
“Being late to a degree helped the crop because rain did not string out open cotton, but given that we are running out of heat, we may have been better off with an earlier crop that had been defoliated and was standing up when the rain came,” Dodds said.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cotton will always have challenges, but few of them will ever compare to the boll weevils that thrived in Mississippi from 1904 until 2009.
“It is nearly impossible for this younger generation of consultants, scouts and growers to understand how hard boll weevils were to control and how much boll weevil control hurt beneficial insects and complicated cotton management,” said Will McCarty, who served as the Mississippi State University Extension Service cotton specialist during “the boll weevil wars.”
MACON, Miss. -- Farmers' independent natures make them strong, but when agricultural producers join forces, they can take success to the next level.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, commended Mississippi farmers for their efforts to unite in the battle to eradicate boll weevils from the state.
“Historically, boll weevils were the prime pest in cotton fields. To control them, it took numerous pesticide applications,” he said. “Those treatments were costly and ate into the growers’ profit margins.”
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi’s row crops have had enough rain, and most fields just need sunshine.
Erick Larson, grain crops specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said corn is mature and will gain no benefit from additional moisture. In the first couple of weeks of August, skies were overcast or rain was falling across most of the state.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Tropical Storm Cindy did not help the state's cotton crop that struggled with cool and wet weather all spring.
Darrin Dodds, cotton specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said in mid-June, cotton received about a week of the heat and sun it needs to thrive. Weather before that was not ideal, and rain remains in the forecast.