What are the essential nutrients for cotton? Why should growers apply nutrients via foliar feeding? Does the foliar fertilization of cotton pay off? Hunter Frame addresses these questions in his presentation "Foliar Fertilization of Cotton: Is It a Waste?"
Frame begins by outlining the benefits of foliar feeding of nutrients, including to improve efficiency, to correct observed deficiencies, and to increase yields. He discusses the 4Rs of nutrient management (right source, right place, right rate, and right timing) in the context of economic, environmental, and social factors.
Next, Frame identifies the 17 nutrients essential for cotton: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (the most abundant nutrients in plants), plus 14 mineral nutrients categorized as primary, secondary, and micronutrients. He reviews the pros and cons of foliar feeding of macro- and secondary nutrients, and he explains that differences in soil properties across regions of the Cotton Belt affect the availability of nutrients. Growers should consult their local Extension agents for recommendations on managing micronutrients in cotton.
Frame addresses the economics of fertilization in terms of the application amounts of soil versus foliar fertilizers and the cost and long-term effects of applying soil versus foliar products. He provides evidence of differences in yields among Virginia growers in 2014 who used soil-applied versus foliar-applied fertilization, and he reviews results from a four-state study of input levels, costs, and yields. In closing, Frame explains how to identify nutrient deficiencies through sampling.
This 38-minute presentation is available through the "Focus on Cotton" resource on the Plant Management Network. This resource contains more than 100 webcasts, along with presentations from a number of conferences, on a broad range of aspects of cotton crop management: agronomic practices, diseases, harvest and ginning, insects, irrigation, nematodes, precision agriculture, soil health and crop fertility, and weeds. These webcasts are available to readers open access (without a subscription).
The "Focus on Cotton" homepage also provides access to "Cotton Cultivated," a resource from Cotton Incorporated that helps users quickly find the most current cotton production information available. These and other resources are freely available courtesy of Cotton Incorporated at http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/foco.