Topdress - One Shot or Two?6-9-21
We are passing the 5 leaf stage on our April planted cotton with the early May planting not far behind. This oldest cotton will need inputs at different times compared to everything planted in the cool weather of Mid-May and especially the cotton that is just emerging in June. Many fields in these second two scenarios have two ages of cotton in the same field that will keep things interesting; however, for the most part, the early crop is fairly uniform and becoming much more advanced. This oldest cotton is now safe from thrips and will be at the top dress time soon. Some farmers split the topdress nitrogen particularly on light soil which can include potash and this trip should be made immediately, even on the young cotton. Most operations will make just one application of nitrogen topdress to bring up the total amount of applied nitrogen to between 100 and 120 pounds including the earlier applications. The timing for this single application is when you can start to see some squares, basically between 6 and 10 leaves or 10 to 16 inches tall. Even the 12 leaf stage is not too late, but you are getting closer to bloom by then and you need rain to activate it prior to bloom. The oldest cotton will be on the front side of this stage around the weekend and the latest cotton will not be there until July.
Last week and perhaps later this week, there are some areas that have had a deluge of heavy rainfall that could create some of the typical yellowing that has made many operations plan on the split nitrogen application using ammonium sulfate on the first shot. You almost know that light land will start looking hungry soon. Be careful not to put too much nitrogen on young cotton too quickly (5 leaves or less) as it can become wild with frequent rainfall.
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