MANAGEMENT By Jessica Link, Product Specialist
The typical spring excitement switched to high levels of stress as #plant19 became #noplant19 in several areas of the country. Significant precipitation plagued the Midwest, putting a delay on growers getting into the field to plant. With a recent stretch of dry weather, growers worked to get as much seed into the ground as possible. As of June 17, 92% of the nation’s corn has been planted, compared to the four-year average of 100%. Ohio has planted the least amount of corn compared to other states, with only 68% of corn planted, followed by South Dakota with 78%. Overall, this spring has provided many challenges, causing increased stress on the grower as well as stressed crops in the ground. Understanding crop stress and how to overcome it will maximize the success of crop productivity this growing season.
Plant stress is inevitable, sometimes planned and sometimes not. Seeds that have been planted may be faced with wet soil conditions, causing a lack of oxygen getting to the roots and the leaching of valuable nutrients within the soil profile. A wet harvest last fall and this never-ending wet spring has caused a compaction layer within the root zone, limiting root growth and nutrient uptake. Much of the corn crop this year will suffer from sidewall compaction (Figure 1). Sidewall compaction occurs when planting takes place on wet soils. As the planter moves through the field, furrow openers smear the sidewall of the furrow, there by sealing it and creating a barrier that roots have little ability to penetrate. As a result, root interception of nutrients early in the season will be limited to nutrients applied with a starter fertilizer.
Figure 1: This corn root photo taken by the University of Kentucky demonstrates sidewall compaction. The corn roots are extending to the right but not the left.
The weather pattern thus far has given us a clear indication that plants will be or already are stressed by excess water. The National Weather Service predicts the wetter-than-normal pattern will persist throughout summer with average to slightly above-average temperatures (Figures 2 & 3). Excessive moisture can limit vegetative growth, especially if paired with temperature stress. The optimum temperature for corn growth is in the mid-70 degree F range. While the weather continues to remain relatively unpredictable, having a general idea of what is in store this summer will help with planning a fertility program for your crop.
Figure 2: Map released by the NOAA predicting precipitation patterns compared to the average for July, August, and September of 2019.
Figure 3: Map released by the NOAA predicting temperature patterns compared to the average for July, August, and September of 2019.
Another stressful phase for the plant during the growing season is the reproductive stage. An article published by Purdue University states, when stresses of temperature, moisture, and nutrients are combined, a yield reduction of up to 13% per day can occur. By eliminating the factor of nutrient stress, the overall total stress-load will be reduced, maximizing yield during the reproductive stage. Providing adequate fertility with a season-long nutrient management strategy will allow the crop to focus all of its energy on seed production, rather than scavenging for nutrients.
The best approach to minimizing stress on the crop, whether the stress is planned or unplanned, is with a season-long management approach. Beginning with a starter fertilizer is essential to a great start. A starter fertilizer provides vital nutrients to get the crop out of the ground quickly and efficiently. At sidedress, pairing UAN with UltraMate® LQ or UltraMate Zn will stabilize the nitrogen, keeping it around and available longer for crop use. For more information, read the May 2019 Agronomy Update. Foliar fertilizer applications are recommended, beginning at the V4 growth stage in corn and soybeans. There are a variety of program recommendations fit for all growing conditions and situations.
RESEARCH AND PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS By Jessica Link, Product Specialist
The Andersons provides high-quality products designed for foliar application in a variety of situations. Nutrients enter through the leaf tissue and travel throughout the plant, providing adequate nutrition to ensure the success of the growing crop. The application of a foliar fertilizer results in high-quality crops and a yield increase. See below for some offerings from The Andersons’ diverse product portfolio to address a variety of situations and needs.
Super 72™ and Super 25B™
With the weather challenges this season, a portion of applied nitrogen was lost. To minimize yield loss due to lack of nitrogen, an application of foliar nitrogen will help supplement the needs of the growing crop. Slow release nitrogen solutions from The Andersons, Super 72 and Super 25B, can be found in the PureGrade® product line. Each features a percentage of nitrogen in the slow-release form, providing a safe foliar nitrogen source to the crop with little risk of burning plant tissue. Super 72 provides 72 percent of its nitrogen in the slow-release form, allowing for 25-30 days of nitrogen feeding. Super 25B provides a boron source to the crop while also providing 10-14 days of nitrogen feeding. The below study was conducted in Colorado in 2013. Super 72 was applied at a rate of 1.5 gal/ac at the V8 growth stage in corn. Results showed a 12.45 bu/ac advantage compared to the check.
90-98% of total potassium present in soils is in an insoluble form resistant to chemical breakdown. In this form, potassium breaks down and releases slowly, but in small quantities compared to the total needs of the crop. Solving for this issue, Korrect, a mild form of readily available potassium, can be applied to the crop through foliar application. There is a low risk of injury when applied to delicate leaf tissue.
MicroNourish® and MicroNourish Fe
Micronutrients are equally as important as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium but needed in smaller amounts and can be just as limiting to yield if deficient. MicroNourish and MicroNourish Fe are designed to boost overall crop health by providing maintenance levels of sulfur, boron, and manganese. MicroNourish Fe also provides iron in situations where additional iron may be necessary. In the below photo, MicroNourish was applied in Indiana. A clear visual difference can be seen where MicroNourish was applied.
Each micronutrient performs a specific role within the plant. MicroBlitz is a complete micronutrient blend featuring a fulvic acid to enhance nutrient delivery. The application of MicroBlitz takes a preventative approach to micronutrient deficiencies, giving the crop a little bit of both macronutrients and micronutrients. In Nebraska in 2016, MicroBlitz at 1qt/ac was applied alongside OverPass® SF at 2gal/ac on soybeans. The application was made at the R3 growth stage. The treatment yielded a 3.21bu/ac advantage compared to the check.
The introduction of fulvic acid into a foliar fertilizer mix will protect the micronutrient, enhancing plant delivery and uptake. The formulation of Fulvic LQ contains a high concentration of the measurable fulvic fraction of humic substances, helping plants to better realize their full genetic potential. Fulvic LQ’s clearer color compared to other carbon substances enhances its user-friendliness and optimal compatibility. Fulvic LQ’s unique properties increase the bioavailability of the nutrients it accompanies in the tank and drastically increases absorption into the plant.
Gibberellins and cytokinins are plant hormones that regulate various developmental processes within the plant. These hormones are often called “plant growth enhancers” because of their role in helping the plant overcome stress. Phosfix is a 7-4-9 blend of macronutrients and plant growth enhancers that improve yield and profit by encouraging crop health and vigor. Phosfix contains trace amounts of humic acid, fulvic acid, and seaweed. The application of Phosfix improves plant tolerance to stress, aiding growth through adverse conditions. In 2018, Beck’s PFR trials tested Phosfix at the V4 growth stage on corn. A five-site average observed a 2.6 bu/ac advantage compared to the check.
By using high yield management strategies, including foliar fertilizer applications, you can greatly influence the yield potential and ultimately the profitability of your crop.
For more information on how to choose the best foliar fertilizer for your situation, contact your local dealer or complete the form below.