Virginia Cotton: Crop Looks Good, Some Fertility Issues

Photo: Kevin Hudson, Mississippi State University

There are two strongly different situations in our cotton crop. 

  • An oversimplification is that we have some pretty cotton, and well, we have the other cotton that is not beautiful…yet.
  • To the casual observer, they would just look at all the larger cotton that has good color as the beautiful cotton, and while that is certainly true, there is a lot of beautiful cotton that is small because it is only a month old (such a cute little baby). When this young cotton gets close to bloom, it will be bigger than this oldest cotton now.
  • The primary challenge I think we have is related to fertility particularly on older cotton that has large squares on it but is red at the bottom. This is nitrogen deficiency that has been caused by tremendous rainfall and most often accompanied by delayed fertilizer applications.
  • The good news is that we will have the opportunity to get all the fertilizer applied now that the weather is better, and there is a little bit of rain chance on Sunday and a better chance the following weekend to activate it.
  • Because it is still early, everything has opportunity to improve as cotton can make miraculous recovery from stress.
  • It’s all about perspective, we all know cotton will grow an inch per day once it has good fertility and is a few weeks ahead of blooming, and it only takes about 8 bolls per plant to make 2 bales per acre in a stand of 36,000 plants.

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