The main emphasis our cotton research year was to identify the major impact preventing better cotton yields, regardless of location. Cotton projects from California to Georgia were implemented to determine effect of climate, cultural practices, soil structure and biology, fertilizers, chemical and genetics on lint quality and yield. Curiously, after completion, the programs instituted all looked alike, (other than in Mississippi where the growers insisted on anhydrous placed under the seed at app. 75-100 units N), whether located in yellow clays of the Midwest or the deep sands of Georgia, and yielded alike.
The starter combination, utilizing low-salinity, multi-compound polymers (10-11-6 [not 10-34-0]) and calcium, humate and micro- packages for complete start as well as inoculation proved to be an important step toward standardizing the plant physiology that the dry ground and foliar applications carried through the growing season. Because few of the dry soil components utilized tied up in the soil systems and foliar applications kept Hartig-net associations viable season long, cost effectiveness for the increase in yield were extremely favorable.
Increases ran from 150 lbs. lint to over 600 lbs. though the major yield differences seemed tied to negative impact from agricultural practices, (deep late cultivating, poor irrigation, the anhydrous nonsense, late mono-element applications creating deficiencies in other elements and bloom tagging from calcium deficiencies), rather than soil or climatic variables. Even cotton in drought areas, where in some fields NO rain fell from May 5th to September 2nd , the plants produced 480- 600 lb lint yields and did not wilt under the heat and dry stresses. The critical issues were; 1. paying attention to the various growth stages and 2. utilizing fertilizers that had the least negative impact. An explanation:
#1. Because of cotton's perennial deciduous nature, the application of fertilizers, in the past, influenced the movement of the dominant hormone pattern from a natural transition to quick changes (from early rooting, through vegetation and into reproduction), before each phase accomplished the correct ratio for optimized yields. We applied fertilizers to emphasis the distinct phases rather than circumvent them according to some arbitrary vegetative growth pattern believed to be "normal".
#2. Salinity impacts cotton, especially early, in transitional growth phases, and late, in leaf to bole nutrient movement. Emphasis was placed on low-salt dry ground fertilizers, and non-salt polymer foliar full feeds,to minimize oscillating tissue element values, without accumulated cellular N & salinity inhibitions, and maintain even lint characteristics.
Multiple changes were instituted during the season to the foliar components with the help of co-operating companies and this years cotton components and program is, of course, different and considerably more tailored toward cotton response. This should increase yields across the growing regions and homogenize responses.