Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

Season 15, Episode 2: Digging Into Nutrient Deficiencies in Alfalfa and Soybeans

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
Hosts Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk expand on the nutrient deficiency conversation on this episode of The Deal With Yield. Jon gives a look into 2018 soybean yields and the common nutrient deficiencies seen in fields across Minnesota. Joel talks alfalfa and the decision-making that goes along with managing his favorite crop.
 
Digging Into Nutrient Deficiencies in Alfalfa and Soybeans

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.
 

2017 Soybean Tissue Sampling Results

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
Guest host Jon Zuk joins Joel Wipperfurth to continue the conversation on 2017 tissue sampling results. On this episode, the guys look at nationwide tissue sampling trends in soybeans and examine why this crop is more difficult to manage and predict.
Season 12, Episode 2: 2017 Soybean Tissue Sampling Results

To be displayed under the play button: The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

How Healthy Were Crops in 2017?

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Across the country, farmers experienced another dynamic growing season in 2017. From widespread drought to flooding rains, farmers dealt with environmental conditions that required in-season management adjustments to maintain crop health. Tissue sampling proved to be a valuable tool to help guide plant nutrition decisions. Farmers who conducted tissue sampling and analyses in 2016 may have seen different nutrient deficiencies in 2017, requiring them to adjust their fertilization plans in-season.

Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide nutrient trends revealed by tissue analysis conducted by WinField United in 2017.
  • Corn suffered from more nutrient deficiencies in 2017. Compared to 2016, corn plants saw increased deficiencies in key macro- and micronutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, zinc, manganese and boron. The most common deficiency was zinc; nearly 82 percent of sampled plants were short on the nutrient that aids in chlorophyll synthesis and other metabolic functions.
  • Soybeans had a sharp increase in copper deficiency. More than 65 percent of soybeans sampled lacked sufficient copper levels to meet plant health needs. This is up 24 percentage points compared to 2016. Copper is a key nutrient for protein synthesis, cell wall formation and many enzyme systems. A majority of soybean samples were also low in potassium and manganese.
  • Wheat lacked micronutrients. Copper deficiency was widespread across wheat crops last year, with nearly 85 percent of sampled plants lacking adequate concentrations of the nutrient. Limited availability of copper in wheat can lead to aborted heads and yield loss. Two other micronutrients, zinc and magnesium, were more deficient this year compared to last year.
  • Cotton showed boron deficiency. Cotton samples were more deficient in boron this year compared to last year, with more than 65 percent of sampled cotton lacking adequate levels of the nutrient. Boron deficiency can lead to flower abortion and boll shedding, limiting cotton yield. Nearly all of the cotton tested was low in potassium, consistent with last year’s test results.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium. Nearly 90 percent of the more than 300 alfalfa samples analyzed had low levels of calcium in 2017. Calcium aids in nitrogen uptake, nutrient absorption and it contributes to enzyme activity in plants. The majority of alfalfa samples were also short on magnesium and potassium.
  • Corn silage had deficits in manganese, nitrogen and zinc. Deficiencies were found in a greater percentage of samples for all three nutrients in corn silage this year compared to last year. Potassium, boron and sulfur deficiencies were also common in 2017. Corn silage removes more nutrients from soil than grain corn, so crops often require additional fertilization to meet yield goals.
  • Potatoes needed more zinc. Zinc and copper were lacking most in potato crops last year. More than 80 percent of potatoes sampled were deficient in one or both nutrients. Zinc aids in nitrogen metabolism and affects starch content in potatoes. Sample results also revealed a common shortage of phosphorus and manganese in potatoes.
What Does the Data Tell Us?
Plant tissue sampling throughout the growing season can provide real-time insights into a crop’s nutrient status to allow for in-season adjustments to prevent yield loss. Armed with this data, you may be able to remediate nutrition problems before the crop shows signs of stress.
 
While nationwide trends in crop health were analyzed and reported, individual field testing is the best way to evaluate nutrient deficiencies. Plant health is dynamic, and nutrient availability is based on localized conditions and management practices.

2017 Corn Tissue Sampling Results

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
On this episode of The Deal With Yield, Joel Wipperfurth is joined by guest host Jon Zuk, agronomist with WinField United. The two discuss nationwide tissue sampling trends in corn and ways farmers can proactively combat nutrient deficiencies through varied in-season management practices.
Season 12, Episode 1: 2017 Corn Tissue Sampling Results

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

Playing Dietician to Your Plants

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
A strong plant nutrition program starts with identifying your plants’ needs early in the season and continuing with “check-ups” throughout key growth stages. Tissue sampling allows us to pinpoint exactly what’s going on in a plant so real-time nutrient adjustments can be made to optimize yield potential.
 
Like people, each crop has unique nutritional needs. Here are some considerations for keeping corn, soybean and wheat plants healthy through the rest of the season.
 
Corn
Corn takes up the majority of its nutrients between V8 and VT, so paying close attention to both macro- and micronutrient deficiencies ahead of these stages is critical. Sixty-six percent of more than 17,500 corn tissue samples taken nationwide in 2016 through the NutriSolutions 360® system were low in nitrogen, which can be combatted with a side-dress application.
 
On the micronutrients front, 72 percent of corn samples were low in zinc. In 2015, I applied a quart of MAX-IN® Zinc micronutrient at V5 on acres showing zinc deficiencies, and the results led to a 4.55-bushel-per-acre increase. As a result, I recommend taking a tissue sample of the uppermost collar leaf at V5. If samples show a deficiency, spray as quickly as possible to feed plants when they need it most.
 
Remember that nutrient deficiencies change from year to year and certain hybrids respond to nutrient applications better than others. Working with your agronomist to procure quality test plot data, including response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores, can help you create a balanced fertility program for your corn crop.
 
Soybeans
I recommend taking a tissue sample starting at V4 to V6 to get a baseline measurement of soybean plant health and another sample at R2, working with your agronomist to correct deficiencies as appropriate for your crop and operation. If you experienced wet weather this spring, keep an extra eye on boron and sulfur levels, as they may have depleted.
 
Wheat
There’s a lot of work being done when it comes to in-season management for wheat. Copper was a common deficiency in wheat in 2016. However, we’ve found through the Answer Plot® Program that wheat is highly responsive to copper applications in the spring as well as at flag leaf emergence. That said, taking tissue samples prior to jointing and again at flag leaf emergence to assess copper and other nutrient levels can help optimize yield potential for wheat.
 
Remember, the earlier you can diagnose nutrient needs, the better. Collaborating with your agronomist to determine the right timing for tissue sampling and applications will go a long way in protecting the health of your crops.

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