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Adding Manganese to Improve Soybean Yield

When is it needed? How should you apply it?

Soybean field

Research continues to prove the importance of adding micronutrients to plants for successful crop growth. Recent studies have tested the application type and timing of the micronutrient manganese to determine its effectiveness.

According to Paul Reising at Wolf Trax, writing in a May 2014 article, growers are waiting too long to add manganese to their soybean crop. Tests have shown that a soybean crop loses yield when denied this nutrient. (Read the full article, "Don't Make Your Soybeans Wait for Manganese." )

Manganese aids in photosynthesis, and growers can see the effects of an application on soybeans lacking in manganese because the plants become visibly greener. The goal, however, is not to make your soybeans wait for this important micronutrient, but to supply it early on. When you can see a visible green up after adding manganese, most likely you have waited too long.

To add the first round of manganese to soybeans, Hubbard recommends a banded application, typically as part of a starter fertilizer. You can mix Wolf Trax Manganese DDP with your starter fertilizer, or you can coat your dry fertilizer blend with Manganese DDP.

Applying the nutrient in this way allows it to distribute itself throughout the plant through the roots. Because manganese is immobile in a plant, when applied as a foliar spray it only works on the part of the plant it comes in contact with. Adding the manganese near developing roots via the banded method gives the entire plant access to this valuable nutrient.

Soybean field

Most fields will probably need additional micronutrient treatment beyond the initial banded application. "Where manganese deficiency may be an issue," says Hubbard, "Southern States recommends a foliar application at the R1-R3 growth stage, or early pod stage."

Sometimes an initial banded application just won't work with your field. In cases such as these, where a banded application is not practical, growers should use a broadcast application of Wolf Trax DDP Plantactive to start, supplemented by one or two later foliar applications. We recommend adding the first foliar early and then adding the second at the R2-R3 stage.

Broadcast applications of manganese with traditional materials have historically been subject to tie-up. Tie-up occurs when a nutrient or chemical bonds with the soil and does not reach the plant. The developers of Wolf Trax DDP Plantactive formulated it to specifically avoid tie-up, so that the nutrient effectively reaches the plant.

Manganese issues are most prevalent on sandy soils or soils with a pH above 6.2. On these fields especially, make sure to add the proper amounts of manganese early so that the plants have an adequate supply throughout their growth span.

For more information on the application of manganese to soybeans, please consult your local Southern States Agronomy Professional or local Extension agency.

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