20 Feb 20

One of my biggest mentors in the fertility game, Robb Dedman always makes the comment “you don’t feed your baby in the morning and expect it to last him until the next morning”. This statement says a lot!

Plants are like humans in the fact that they need key nutrients during key growing times of their lives. Looking at the demand curve for different plants as well as building a database of tissue samples, we can determine when those times will be.


One of the mistakes I make as well as other farmers make is that we try to be so efficient with our equipment and time. We would try to front-load fertilizer at convenient times for us instead of the most efficient time for the crop. Doing this we have found that we may not have the correct  fertility at it’s  fullest potential to meet the plants demands of  the plant needs it there.

For example, using our potassium needs in cotton, we have always applied our  potassium needs upfront either in the fall the previous fall or in the spring based on the soil samples and crop removal amounts for a certain yield goal. This way were getting this done in a more convenient time frame for us and not the best time for the plants. we always noticed my full bloom or 1/4 bill load, not only were levels of potassium in our tissue tissue samples nosediving but you could see a visible deficiency in the plant.  When you get to the point that you see a visual visual deficiency in the plant it’s normally too late to correct.

Last year, we made a commitment on our farm to split these applications into three key times. The first application being pre-plant, the second application at pre-bloom, and the third application 10 days after first bloom this will give the plant the best option to utilize the potassium at key times while having less nutrients leach or runoff due to excessive rain or weather.


What we saw was exactly what we hope for, the tissue levels of the potassium stayed efficient all through the growing season and, for the most part, the plants never showed visual signs of potassium deficiency. As far as a yield increase by doing this test, we did not do an actual plot but treated our whole crop the same way. We did find some previous work that was done previously by local university showing an increase of 150 pounds of lint per acre which would equate to over $100 an acre return with an extra application cost of max $21 an acre. this is if you had to do all of the applications separate from any other application. we actually piggybacked two of our applications with our nitrogen so there was no extra cost. the name of the game is ROI. 30 pounds of lint per acre increase would put your ROI at zero. Please remember that this fertilizer plan could be used on multiple nutrients in multiple crops.

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