Virginia Cotton: “Light Land Syndrome” – The Problem Child

    ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

    Cotton Development
    Cotton planted from about May 2 through mid- May seems to be around the 5-leaf stage. Cotton planted as late as June 3 is already getting the second leaf in the bud so it is not a tremendously variable crop even though it took us 6 weeks to get it planted this year.

    Winding Down on Thrips
    We are mostly past thrips for the majority of the cotton. If you have late cotton that has never been sprayed and you have not made a decision, take a quick look and evaluate the plant condition. If it is growing good, it probably is out of thrips danger. If it is stunted either from wet heavy ground with a poor root or has herbicide injury, look closely at the bud for damage and spray Orthene as needed. I would probably not be automatic at this time especially if the field is clean and does not need a trip for weeds.

    Light Land Syndrome
    I am seeing the early signs of “Light Land Syndrome”. What I mean is that the light soils typically do not respond well to a lot of rain or to dry weather. Either way, they are like a ‘problem child’ sometimes. The best medicine for that poor growth on light soils is Ammonium sulfate in wet years and rain in dry years. We also see some low pH problems show up just in those spots even when the average of the field is still OK. It is too early to put all the nitrogen out now so a split makes the most sense to me on these light soils. The better land does not seem to have this problem.

    Applying Sidedress
    For one application, time the application for 6 to 9-leaf cotton or 8 to 15 inches of growth. For split application, make the first application from 2 to 5 leaf cotton and the second as late as possible but by about 12 nodes. We have become more aggressive with nitrogen recently particularly for continuous cotton, however, this year with later cotton, be sure and reduce application rates when high residual nitrogen is likely such as peanut vines, good soil types on rotated land, and fields with a history of rank growth..

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