Role of Sulfur in Cotton Production

Sulfur is essential to the formation of plant proteins and amino acids, and it's involved in the reduction of nitrate to amino acids. Including S in a cotton fertilizer program is critical to maximize yield potential.

Sulfur is present in both inorganic and organic forms and around 90-95% of soil-S is in the organic fraction. Soil sulfate is used by plants and soil organisms, or adsorbed on to soil particles. Sulfates are readily leached from soils especially those with a sandy texture.

Elemental sulfur in the soil is converted to sulfate by bacteria. All soils contain low levels of at least some of these bacteria species, which rapidly increase in number when elemental sulfur is added. Sulfur should be applied ‘little and often’ because of sulfur’s propensity for leaching.


The standard S recommendation is 10 lb/A, applied either pre-plant or at sidedress with Nitrogen. S fertilization is important where higher rates of N are used due to increased plant biomass, thus allowing the N:S ratio to stay optimum. As sulfur leaches readily in sandy soils, sulfur fertilization is most important on sandy, low organic matter Coastal Plain soils. Sulfur deficiencies commonly appear even with an adequate soil program when heavy leaching has occurred due to heavy precipitation. Foliar S applications can alleviate mid-season deficiencies and should be applied at 14 day intervals up until first bloom.


Cotton Crop Nutrition – Finding the Right Program

Creating the right nutrient management strategy in Cotton production is not a “one-size-fits-all” prescription. Cotton is grown in vastly different environments with differing soil conditions and yield potentials. Any nutrient program needs to be designed for these variables. But where do you start? Find these answers and more in this free webinar by Cotton Grower.

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Role of nutrients

Read about the role of other nutrients in cotton production:







Trey Cutts
Trey Cutts
Market Development Director