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Starter Fertilizer Source and Rate Effect on Stand and Growth of Cotton

J.E. Matocha, D.L. Coker, F.L. Hopper, X. Liu


The use of starter or "pop-up" fertilizers in the past has produced variable results in influencing crop yields. Factors such as soil moisture at planting and composition of the fertilizer materials have contributed to the erratic results from use of starter fertilizers. Recent research with ammonium polyphosphate (11-37-0) has shown some beneficial effects on growth and lint yield of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) when the starter was placed in the seed furrow or surface banding at time of planting. The purpose of this research was to determine the effect of starter fertilizer composition and application rates on cotton seedling emergence and early shoot/root growth at low and medium soil moisture regimes at planting. Treatments consisted of a control, 7-21-0, 5-15-0 and 3-9-0 liquid blends applied directly in the seedrow at 3, 6 and 9 gal./A to an Orelia sandy clay loam. The three blends contained 2.4, 1.4 and 1.0 percent organic acid, respectively, and contained the ammonium orthophosphate form of P. Ammonium polyphosphate (11-37-0) was used as a standard of comparison at rates of 3 and 6 gal./A. Eight seeds were planted in 18 inch rows in trays and plants were grown for 35 days after planting (DAP). All starter fertilizers had a definite effect on cotton seedling emergence and early growth. Ammonium polyphosphate caused a marked delay in emergence even at 3 gal./A during the first five days. Starter mix 3-9-0, at 6 and 9 gal./A, showed significantly less damage than other blends and the 11-37-0. By 11 DAP, no difference among blends was observed but blended starter fertilizer had significantly higher (P<0.05) emergence than 11-37-0 which produced less than 20% plant emergence at 6 gal./A. Chlorophyll readings were only slightly higher for starter blends containing organic acids. Seedlings grown under lower soil moisture showed a gradual decrease in plant height as starter rates increased. Starter blends failed to increase dry matter yields of seedlings at 35 DAP when compared to the control but 11-37-0 decreased growth at certain rates. Where adverse effects from starter treatments occurred, they were magnified by lower soil moisture. Further research under field conditions is needed.

Reprinted from Proceedings of the 1996 Beltwide Cotton Conferences pp. 1421 - 1426
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998