Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What To Do About High Fertilizer Prices In Cotton Production?

Anyone paying attention to the fertilizer market has seen the prices jump +20% since the start of the year. As you continue to watch the markets, a bull market, climb upward, here are a few things to think about this year for your production plans.

UGA Cotton Team Soil Scientist Dr. Harris gives a few tips:

Unfortunately there are no “silver bullets” when it comes to getting around these prices. Cotton needs a certain amount of nutrients. These need to be supplied from the soil and from applied fertilizer. The higher the yield goal, the more nutrients the cotton plant needs.

Banding P and K fertilizer does not increase uptake efficiency on soils with medium or higher P and K soil test levels. If you cut the recommended rate of P and K because you apply them in a band you may also cut your yield.

Some things that may be helpful to weather the storm of high fertilizer prices this year include:

1) Soil test – Important to do every year anyway but even more important now. Makes the cost of soil testing pale in comparison to the value of knowing where you stand.

2) Apply the recommended P and K, and ¼ to 1/3 of your total N rate at planting. If using chicken litter as a preplant fertilizer, calculate how much N, P and K is applied.

3) Tissue test around first square if you suspect any micronutrient problems (mainly Mn or Zn) especially due to high soil pH.

4) Sidedress N between first square and first bloom with the appropriate N rate for expected yield goal. Give yourself a 30 lb N/a credit if following peanuts or a legume cover crop.

5) Starting at first bloom, petiole test to fine tune N, K and boron needs. This is especially recommended if you are cutting your N rate compared to previous years because you thought you were high, or if using chicken litter since it is not easily predicted exactly how much and when N will be released from the organic portion of the litter.

No comments: