Most research indicates that foliar feeding with nutrients or applying plant growth products will not provide much benefit to young, stressed cotton. These applications may leave the grower feeling like it helped based on slight color differences, or slightly more growth but a yield response is unlikely. 

The cotton crop is likely suffering from the ability to take up nutrients rather than the lack of nutrients. A stressed cotton plant struggling to grow, with photosynthesis impaired, it will likely have a more difficult time also taking up foliar nutrients. Foliar fertilization can potentially burn the crop, which is generally not needed in these cases.

What about Pix or PGRs from now on? Delay PGRs to cotton coming out of this situation. Even with aggressive varieties, I would be hesitant to inhibit vegetative growth. Watch the internode lengths and be sure that the crop needs an application before just going out and doing it because its time.  The growth rate of the plant can be seen in the internodes, if they are still “tight”, then the crop still needs to get going. 

If the internodes have started expanding and the crop is getting some height on it, then we can do something, especially after side-dress N and after bloom.

What about side-dress nitrogen? We know that the typical time for side-dressing N is from 1st square to 1st bloom, if cotton in this scenario is drying out and starting to grow, it may not hurt to start a little early or at least be on the early end.   

If the cotton has already reached 1st square, go as soon as possible. If cotton is already blooming, again go as soon as possible. With regards to rates, it may be more appropriate to go with a lower rate than normal. Reducing the amount of nitrogen may help with proper growth and development of this “late” crop. 

Too much nitrogen may cause too much vegetative growth that may not relate to more cotton yield because of the reduced amount of time to mature. Also, if reduced rates are used up front, then there is still an opportunity to come back with some through a pivot or foliar later on.

What about weed control?  Weeds are likely going to be bigger than usual in fields that we have been kept out of. Make sure we are making the appropriate decisions on herbicide selection. Regarding weed control, all should be the same.

Regarding herbicide injury, it may be a different story. Any tank-mixture that can burn the cotton crop could delay development further and an attempt should be made to avoid it. This will most likely be related to the application of Staple, Warrant or Dual mixed in with Roundup or Liberty, especially liberty on Phytogen Widestrike cotton. Weed control is extremely important in any cotton field and this may not be avoidable.  

Potential problems that can be avoided should be additional tank-mix partners (other than herbicides) that are not necessary. These include additional adjuvants, water conditioners, ammonium sulfate, and other foliar fertilizer mixtures that could increase chance of injury, especially when mixed with Dual, Warrant, or Staple. Unless absolutely necessary, consider leaving these out of the tank.

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