How to Fight Abiotic Stress in Cotton During Square and Boll Development >>

Cotton stress

When daily temperatures average over 90°F and with little to no rainfall over a 7-14 day span, cotton plants will do what they can to stay alive. The cotton plant will conserve its resources but in doing so will sacrifice yield potential by stealing nutrients that would normally go toward reproductive development. Therefore, making sure plants have proper nutrition leading up to and following this time period, can mitigate potential yield losses caused by these types of stress.


Potassium (K) Role

Several nutrients have important roles in combating abiotic stress in cotton. Potassium (K) nutrition is critical during drought periods to help manage physiological processes in the plant. Drought conditions make plants conserve more water which in turn changes how nutrients move throughout the plant. Research has shown that potassium application helps cotton plants function at normal levels during drought and helps speed recovery after rainfall/irrigation events. If drought conditions occur during early reproductive timing (bloom to boll set), the enzymatic/metabolic activities that boost reproductive ability will be negatively impacted.


Potassium is also a good addition to applications of plant growth regulators, such as Mepiquat Chloride, which have become a common practice in cotton fields. Modifying plant growth opens an opportunity to provide the exact nutrients the plant needs in each stage of development. Since Mepiquat Chloride slows down vegetative growth, adding a potassium formulation such as Corona K (8-11-39 0.1B 0.1Cu 0.1Mn 0.1Zn) at this time helps increase plant leaf structure, boll development, and maturation.


Boron (B) Role

Cellular structure can be compromised during high heat and drought stress. Boron (B) is essential for the creation and maintenance of cell walls. Cotton has an excellent ability to utilize the boron available in this structural building process, which means the challenge is the remobilization of boron since the cell wall captures the nutrient and it is not readily able to be remobilized to other areas to help with cellular regeneration/repair during stress events. In the case of B deficiency, reproductive structures like bolls will be shed. Supplementing boron through foliar applications can help in an environment not conducive to root uptake of B (low evaporative demand, dry days, low temperatures).

Boron is also a common nutrient added by growers to Mepiquat Chloride application, with Fertileader® Gold (0-0-0 5.7B 0.35Mo) being a good add-on choice.

Cotton Lint Yield Response Some years bring greater challenges for growers. It was the case of this replicated contract research trial conducted in 2021 in Moultrie, GA. These fields received +40” of rain during the growing season. It was not possible to add nitrogen side-dress because it was just too wet to get in the field. This translated into roughly 1/3 of the yield because there was 1/3 of nitrogen placed up-front. The graph shows the yield difference with the application of 1 pt. of Fertileader Gold three times during the growing season.

In two other trials conducted in North Carolina, Fertileader Gold proved to decrease ball drop by more than 60%.

Besides the boron formulation, there are other aspects of Fertileader that help cotton plants deal with stressful conditions. Glycine betaine, a part of the Seactiv® Complex found in Fertileader, is a naturally occurring amino acid derivative, which helps plants overcome heat stress by maintaining plant metabolism so that photosynthesis can continue. Cytokinins also play a key role in regulating plant processes during abiotic stress (heat, drought, water). They help support cellular integrity, and in many ways help further support the role of boron in the plant during stressful conditions. The Seactiv Complex can help support building levels of this plant hormone to optimize plant performance during stress.


About Corona

The Corona series is a combination of highly water-soluble fertilizers and our patented PRX Complex designed specifically for foliar application. The high-quality ingredients offer superior safety and tank mix compatibility. The products are designed for application in row crop, fruit, and vegetable production. Available in three formulas that are individually high in either N, P or K.

Key Benefits

  • Highly soluble nutrient formulations provide flexible options to improve growth, flowering, and fruiting
  • Superior quality ingredients deliver high efficacy at low rates
  • Individual high analyses of N, P or K to correct in-season deficiencies when soil is not providing adequate nutrition
  • Low salt index and chlorine to reduce salinity stress caused by foliar fertilizer application
  • Formulated with the patented PRX Complex


About Fertileader

The Fertileader series is a group of combinations of highly available nutrients and the patented Seactiv Complex. The formulations are designed to provide the plant with a critical nutritional and physiological boost at vegetative and reproductive stages during times of stress. These are available in several formulas that provide specific nutrient combinations designed to match a crop’s unique nutritional requirements.

Key Benefits

  • Foliar nutrition to help solve deficiencies and reduce in-season stress
  • Amino acid chelated nutrients (low molecular weight carriers) which are easily absorbed by the plant
  • Flexible formulations with ideal nutrient packages for vegetative and reproductive stages
  • Formulated with the patented Seactiv Complex