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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.

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News

Close-up of a cotton plant.
Filed Under: Agriculture, Cotton August 30, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When the calendar turns to September, many who call Mississippi home long for cooler temperatures to relieve the summer’s heat, but the state’s cotton growers want high temperatures and dry weather to drag into October.

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Filed Under: Crops, Corn, Cotton, Soybeans, Disaster Response June 24, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- MSU Extension agents will be assessing agricultural damage from early-June flooding until well into July, but preliminary estimates indicate losses could break records.

The 2019 Yazoo Backwater Area flood caused $617 million in crop damage alone. It looks like the more recent flood will exceed those losses.

Heavy rainfall, primarily north of U.S. Highway 82, throughout the second week of June waterlogged crops during critical growth stages. Flooding caused complete or partial losses in many fields.

 A man in a hat kneels among straw to point at tiny plants.
Filed Under: Crops, Corn, Cotton, Rice, Soybeans May 20, 2021

Because it is the first crop planted starting in March, Mississippi corn is in much better shape than other row crops struggling with the challenges of wet, cool weather.

Graphic showing 2021 planting intentions
Filed Under: Agriculture, Corn, Cotton, Rice, Soybeans April 1, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi row crop growers are planning to plant more soybeans and corn in 2021 than they did last year but not as much cotton, rice or hay.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, publishes its planting intentions report each year at the end of March. This report provides a state-by-state estimation of how many acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton farmers will plant in the upcoming growing season.

Filed Under: Agriculture, Corn, Cotton, Grains, Rice, Soybeans, Sweet Potatoes, Agri-tourism, Beekeeping, Equine, Goats and Sheep, Poultry, Swine, Turfgrass and Lawn Management, Vegetable Gardens, Forestry February 2, 2021

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Each February marks the occasion for producers to share their research and programming needs with Mississippi State University agricultural specialists in person.

To comply with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, the opportunity will be extended virtually this year.

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