BULLETIN NO. 82. JAUARY, 1896.
FLORIDA EXPERIMENT STATION.
Collon, ls CulivoUio AnD Feuilizoion .
. PERSONS .
The very large number of inquiries which have recently
been received at the Eperiment Station office from parties
unfamiliar with cotton growing, and who are seeking in-.
formation in regard to the cultivation and fertilization of
Sea Island Cotton, are clearly indicative of the fact that
it is the intention of Florida farmers to increase the acreage
of this market, crop the present season.
Since it is manifest that the cotton acreage is to be in-
creased, it has been thought best that this Station publish
immediately a brief bulletin on the system of cultivation
that should be applied to the cotton plant, and also suggest-
ing certain economical fertilizer formulae which experience
has shown to be best adapted to producing the largest yield
of cotton at the least expense.
SOILS ADAPTED TO COTTON CULTIVATION.
As to the ideal cotton soil there is some difference of
opinion. It is well known, however, that a sandy soil of
level character and containing sufficient HUMUS will pro-
duce excellent cotton, as will clay loams and .sandy loams
resting upon clay subsoils. All should contain a fair
amount of vegetable matter (humus).
PREPARATION OF THE SOIL.
It is always necessary that the soil receive deep and thor-
ough preparation, followed by pulverization, preparatory to
to the planting of cotton. After this thorough preparation
of the land the fertilizer is either uniformly distributed,
broadcast, over the area, or else, (in the case of moderate
* applications) withheld to apply subsequently in the drill,
and the land is then made into full beds. Ordinarily these
rows (beds) should'be four feet apart, but if the land will
produce as much as twenty bushels of corn to the acre, the
rows can be made wider--say four and a-half to five feet. Af-
ter thus being converted.into full beds, a harrow should be
drawn over them. This will serve to pull all trash and
clods into the middles while broadening and flattening the
FERTILIZER FOR COTTON.
It is well understood that phosphoric acid is the most im-
portant element of plant food to be applied in a cotton fer-
tilizer; nitrogen ranks next in importance, while potash is
required in. smaller quantities than either of the other two.
The required proportions of each of the ingredients are
*-: bout as follows: a' part, of phosphoric acid to I part of
nitrogen ard part of potash.
SWith these. proportions as a basis, the following would
prove an excellent fertilizer to be applied, per acre, on a
comparatively fertile soil:
ioo lbs. Acid phosphate, (containing at least 14% of
available phosphoric acid).
xoo lbs. Upland (bright) cotton-seed-meal.
50 lbs. Kainit.
This application should serve to produce a good yield,
while, at the same time, the fertility of the soil will be
If a nitrogenl-gathering crop, such as the pea, bean, or
clover ha's been grown upon the- land the previous year,
one-half of the quantity of C..S. meal, recommended above,
can be safely dispensed with, but if no such crop has been
grown, then a complete fertilizer, proportioned as above,
will be. found most satisfactory. It is best, on the average
Florida upland, to apply the quantity of fertilizer recom-
mended above, in the drill. If a larger quantity is used,
(which may be often necessary on very poor upland, sandy
soil) it should be broadcasted over the open furrows before
bedding, as has been previously intimated. On such lands
the quantity of each constituent should be increased from
50% to ioo%-according to the degree of impoverishment.
A large proportion of the soils of Florida employed in grow-
ing cotton are known to'be deficient in organic matter
(humus), which, of course, greatly detracts from their pro-
ductive capacity. Muck is known to be an excellent mate-
rial for supplying this deficiency, as is also stable manure.
Before employing the former, however, it should first be
dug out of the beds and piled into heaps to undergo the
"weathering" process, which will require at least several
weeks. Afterwards, it can be composted with stable ma-
nure, half and half, and the two subsequently applied together
(one to two tons per .cre) broadcast over the soil prepara-
tory to bedding. When this compost is employed-which
should always be the case where thin, upland, sandy land
is being cultivated-the quantity of fertilizer recommended
above can, of course, be proportionately reduced.
MATERIALS USEFUL' FOR SUPPLYING THE ESSENTIAL
Below is given a table of important fertilizing materials
that are commonly used for supplying deficiencies of phos-
phoric acid, nitrogen and potash in soils. It will be ob-
served that no, one of the separate materials mentioned in
this table can be depended upon to supply all of the three
plant-food essentials in proper proportions. Each has its
own mission; one to supply the necessary Nitrogen, another,
the necessary Phosphoric Acid and still another the Potash,
The materials commonly used as sources for obtaining the
necessary phosphoric acid are bone-meal, acid phosphate
(raw mineral phosphate rendered soluble by treatment with
Sulphuric Acid), and finely pulverized raw phosphate. The
latter is probably best to employ where the soil- is already
comparatively fertile, and, hence, where the plant does-not
have to depend solely upoh the phosphate material applied
for its phosphoric acid nourishment. Where land is known
to be very poor,.sQth4at-,a.:op must depend almost entirely ..'
upon an application of fertilizer for nourishment, then the
acid phosphate should be employed. Nitrogen is applied as .
a fertilizer in either of the following forms: Nitrate of soda,
Sulphate-of Ammonia, Cotton seed meal, Cotton seed,
Dried Blood, etc.
Potash is usually employed in one of the following forms:
Sulphate of potash, Muriate of Potash, Kainit, Cotton Hull 3
ashes, Wood ashes (unleached). Ashes obtained from burn-
ing the root of the saw palmetto are an excellent home
source of potash, containing approximately 43% of this in-
gredient, and about 20% of phosphoric acid.
Stable manure, alone, although not economically propor-
tioned for a cotton feetilizer, when applied in sufficient
quantities (two to four tons per acre), is an excellent cot-
ton fertilizer, since it contains each of the three plant-food
essentials, in addition to humus.
PERCENTAGE COMPOSITION OF DIFFERENT' FERTILIZING
phosphor- Nitro Pot '.
ic Acid. gen. ash.
Acid Phosphate (contains available phosphoric acid) 14.00 '!
Bone Meal_ .---- --------------------------------- 23.25 4.05 ,
Raw Florida Phosphate .---------------- [ 24.50
Nitrate of Soda 15.70 t -
Sulphate of Ammonia ----------- I ----- 19.50 ---
Cotton Seed Meal (decorticated)- ---.---------..------ 3.10 7.10 1.80
Vottou Seed --------------- 1.02 3.07 1.17
Dried Blood------------------------------------- 1.91 10.50 -- -
Sulphate of Potash (high grade.) -- --- 50.00
Murlate of Potash---.------------- -- 50.00
Kainit-.--- -- -- -- ----- 12.50
Cotton Hull Ashes--...--------------- 6.50 -- 22.75 r
Wood Ashes [unleached.J ---- -- 5.25 A
Saw Palmetto Ashes -- -------- 20.00 43.00
Stable Manure [mixed]--- --- 0.30 0.60 0.6:I
Muck _.------------------- 1.10 ., -
Either of the special materials above may be substituted
for those previously mentioned in the formula; i. e,, Nitrate
of soda may take the place C. S. meal,'etc., taking into
consideration, of course, the difference in per cent of nitro,
gen contained in the two, and making the deduction in the
quantity used accordingly. ;
If the meal from the Sea Island Cotton Seed is employed
instead of Upland Meal, about twice the quantity will be
required, since the former only contains approximately half
WHAT SEEDS SHOULD BE USED IN PLANTING?
The four valuable properties of cotton, we may say,
are'strength, length, fineness and evenness of thread, and"
the best seeds for producing such cotton are from full grown
pods, on healthy stalks. The best seeds are usually from
the middle bolls.
Experience demonstrated long ago that in order to main- ,
tain the best fibre in cotton, new seeds should be obtained
directly from the Sea Islands at intervals of several years.
It is the consensus of opinion that a renewal of seed in this
way at intervals of two or three years will produce satisfac-
tory results. The following cotton dealers can furnish
fresh seed for' planting directly'from the Sea Islands at all
sih "a urieSti6f6.ents, Savannah, '
3a. They can doubtless be proddctd. from either of these
,. gentlemen upon short notice, and at about the rate of $2.00
'per bushel. -
HOW TO PLANT THE SEED.
I The planting of the seed should be accomplished by
p...-eans of sodte of the excellent and cheap cotton planters
'.hieb can tow be easily purchased almost anywhere.
i,'Wheq a planter is employed in dropping the seed, one-half
bushel per acle will be required. When planted by hand
It is necessary to use about three pecks per acre in planting.
SThe best variety of planter to employ is one having a
r oller attached in the rear to press the soil upon the seed.
T' his will insure more prompt germination and more uni-
g- CULTIVATING THE CROP.
As soon as.the first true leaf of the young plant appears,
tbhe cotton rows should be sided closely with a sixteen inch
,errell heel, scrape with narrow wings and set to run very
Sat, In the absence of the Terrell heel, scrape, any old
Oarepe that has been well worn at the extremities will suf-
P** te. The objet tf this siding is to stir the soil around the
plantsnt s and to sift enough fine soil amongst them to cover
''te young grass growing in the drill. Leave it in this con-
d'.ition long enough for the young grass thus covered to die
nud then chop the cotton to a stand. It is a prevailing
-IOpinion that, when it is possible to avoid it, chopping
id not proceed in exceedingly windy or chilly weath-
,oer., The distance apart to leave the stalks in the row in
popping will depe~td chiefly upon the fertility of the soil
the rain supply. On poor lands, or on lands subject
to 4 drought during the planting season,thin planting must be
p..racticed to obtain the best results. Varying, therefore.
-. with the fertility, etc.,'of the soil, the cotton should be
Chopped to a stand wherein the stalks are from ten to
f.e.rtghteen inches apart. The chopping should be followed
,. 'with a wider scrape--26 or 30 inches--throwing enough
soil to the cotton to support it and to cover any grass left *
Sby the choppers. Two furrows, with a wide scrape will
Over the whole mjje'. After every rain, as soon as the
sound is dry enoUgh, the scrape should again be brought
I' nto use to prevertf1he formation of a crust and to kilL4e
'.grass in the germ.
S If this system of cultivation is carefully employed, very
little hoeing wJR be required after chopping to a stand.
:'. he scrape, of course, should be worked under the foot of
i, the plow, using a short scooter, or bull-tongue above to
r 'ak the point. When properly adjusted, if the plow is
placed upon a level surface, the point of the scooter and "
the entire edge of the scrape should touch the surface.
The picking Oofild of co be carried on a. often as
pcesary. I-is ti S .-lto aflow cotton to remain
cp- .3' ;6 ~'%
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