Many North Carolina cotton growers are concerned about fertilizer losses due to the heavy rains.
There are no easy answers, because it is difficult to make an across the board recommendation for one farmer, much less the entire state.
We have growers applying anywhere from a quart of foliar fertilizer to those applying large amounts of dry fertilizer.
Every situation is different in terms of nutrient loss potential, depth of sand to clay layer and amount of rainfall received, but small amounts of foliar fertilizer are not going to have much effect on the crop.
On the other hand too high of levels of nitrogen may be a waste of money and cause problems with defoliation. The maximum amount of nitrogen I would try to replace is 20 to 35 pounds of nitrogen per acre.
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Some of the cotton I have looked at recently is starting to show signs that the roots are starting to find some fertilizer. Where this is occurring, it is certainly a good sign that roots are growing and finding nutrients.
Where growers have not made applications for nutrient loss I would consider the following:
If the cotton is still in early bloom, dry fertilizer is an option. Nutrients applied earlier will tend to accumulate where the subsoil and the roots will likely find sulfur and potassium there if this clay layer is not too deep.
In deep sands, growers may want to use ammonium sulfate to provide both nitrogen and sulfur.
Since nitrogen can be lost both to leaching and denitrification, I think nitrogen is the nutrient we will see the most response to across soils that have been water-logged.
If you are past the second week of bloom or if dry application is not an option I would follow the recommendations for foliar fertilizer I posted here earlier in July.
That information can be found at http://www.nccrops.com/2013/07/15/foliar-fertilization-of-cotton/.
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