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Solutions for Summer Crop Stress


Corn and soybean plants are complex living organisms that change throughout the growing season. In fact, plants and their ability to be productive can change hourly as they face growing-season stressors such as extremes in soil moisture, temperature and humidity, as well as nutrient deficiency, weed pressure, insect feeding, disease, herbicide stress or any combination of these stressors.

It’s also important to remember nutritional uptake by the plant may be limited by soil compaction, tillage practices, soil insects or herbicide application, causing poor plant performance.

Scout Weekly

While it’s impossible to predict stress and its impact on crop performance, proactive management can help identify options for offsetting its detrimental effects. Weekly, in-field scouting is the first step. Visual evaluation of the crop’s color, vitality and growth stage can provide the first indication something is awry. The goal should be to keep plants green and growing. Aerial or satellite imagery is another tool used to identify abnormal areas within a field for closer examination.

Tractor out in the field

Tissue Testing Provides Answers

Collecting tissue samples for analysis is the next step. Your local Southern States’ representative can advise you on proper sampling techniques or handle the tissue sampling for you. Results will define essential nutrient concentrations in the plant tissue and provide a snapshot of where the crop is at that point in time. By combining this information with soil test results and details of nutrient applications, the cause of poor performance can be identified and clinical decisions can be made for treatment.

Nutritional Solutions Offset Crop Stress

Often, the cause of poor plant performance is nutritional deficiency, again caused by uptake restriction, environmental stress or lack of available nutrients in the soil. To supply plants with macro nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, magnesium and sulfur or micro nutrients like zinc, boron, copper or manganese, soil and foliar feeding are very effective and cost-efficient in-season treatments.

For those who irrigate, foliar feeding may be accomplished by adding liquid nutrient products to the irrigation system. Another option is adding nutritional products to the tank mix when applying crop pesticides to combat weeds, disease or insects. This efficiently leverages the cost of application across several crop management practices.

Proven Products to Choose From

When foliar feeding is the recommended solution, Southern States Cooperative turns to two crop nutrition suppliers for proven nutritional products: Monty’s Plant Food Company and BRANDT Consolidated.

These companies offer a variety of custom solutions designed to meet the nutritional needs of crops during critical growth and reproductive stages. Products such as Brandt Smart Quatro® supplies sulfur, boron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc, while Brandt Smart Trio® delivers nitrogen, sulfur, boron, manganese and zinc.

For foliar feeding of soybeans which are often lacking in potassium, Monty’s K28 Liquid Potash can be safely added to nitrogen solutions as well as most herbicides and fungicides for foliar application.

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