How to fertilize Cotton Plants
As it happens in every other crop, there can’t be any universal fertilization scheme, because every field is different and has different needs. Performing soil analysis once a year is extremely important in order to diagnose nutrient deficiencies and take corrective actions.
As a first rule of thumb, cotton plant consumes Nitrogen (N) at a double quantity compared to Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Consequently, a N-P-K 20-10-10 fertilizer is more suitable, if a soil analysis is impossible. A common fertilization schedule applied by many cotton growers is adding 440 lbs. (200 kg) of N-P-K 20-10-10 per hectare during sowing (through the sowing machine), and 440 lbs. (200 kg) of N-P-K 20-10-10 per hectare during flowering (early summer). Keep in mind that 1 hectare = 10.000 m2 = 2,47 acres. Another common fertilization scheme is adding 550 lbs. (250 kg) of ammonium nitrate, 400 lbs. (181 kg) of N-P-K 0-46-0 and 400 lbs. (181 kg) of N-P-K 0-0-50 per hectare throughout the year. These quantities are normally spread in 8 equal applications, with the first being after sowing and the last around 6 weeks after flowering. However, these are just common patterns that should not be followed without making your own research and soil analysis.
In other cases, farmers prefer foliar applications of KNO3 once a week after the first flower appears. Foliar applications can provide fertilizers and insecticides at the same time, and thus reduce labor costs.
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Cotton Fertilizer Requirements
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