Revising petiole nitrate sufficiency/deficiency guidelines for irrigated cotton in the Desert Southwest

Kevin F. Bronson, E. Randall Norton, Jeffrey C. Silvertooth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Petiole nitrate-nitrogen (NO3–N) sampling and testing remains a popular in-season nitrogen (N) management practice in the western United States for cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). However, the present guidelines used by Arizona are greater than 35 yr old and are in need of updating. The objectives of this study were to relate in-season petiole NO3 levels with lint yields and N deficiencies and to revise the former critical deficiency level guidelines by growth stage. Petioles were sampled between first square and peak bloom in nine site-years of cotton N management field trials in Maricopa and Safford, AZ, from 2014 to 2018. Irrigation type in Maricopa was overhead sprinkler irrigation (OSI) (2014–2015) and subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) (2016–2018). In Safford (2014–2017), surface irrigation (SI) was used. Petiole NO3 in SDI was dramatically lower than with SI or OSI, mostly in the deficient range. Lower lint yields in zero-N treatments compared with pre-plant soil NO3 test–based reference treatments occurred in eight site-years (Safford 2016 crop lost to late hailstorm) and were considered N deficient. Critical petiole NO3–N levels from 1984 were revised downward 1 g N kg−1 because several N-fertilized treatment means of petiole NO3 were in that range and did not exhibit an N rate–related yield depression. Sampling cotton plants for petiole NO3 analysis should start within 1 wk of first bloom. Petiole NO3 dynamics and critical levels in SDI cotton required further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-902
Number of pages10
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


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