SHOREVIEW, Minn. — Farmers across the nation faced another dynamic growing season. On-farm tissue sampling conducted with WinField United in 2017 revealed crop- and area-specific trends in plant health that may help farmers make fertilization plans for next year. WinField United has analyzed over 25,000 tissue samples this year and compared the results to samples taken the previous year. The data shows that environmental conditions and production practices can shift plant health needs from year-to-year, requiring farmers to adjust fertilization programs each season.
Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide 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 yield in cotton. 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 and 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.
Consider Sampling Each Year
Tissue sampling delivers valuable, specific and timely information so farmers can optimize yield potential. Sampling each year is the best way to evaluate crop health and to document nutrient availability trends based on weather and production practices.
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.
For complete information about the WinField® United plant nutrition and performance solutions, visit www.winfieldunited.com or contact your WinField® United retailer.
About WinField United
WinField United is the seed, crop protection products, agricultural services and agronomic insights business of Land O’Lakes, Inc. As an industry leader, the business focuses on meeting the needs of nearly 1,300 locally owned and operated cooperative and independent agricultural retailers and their grower-customers across the United States. Through data-backed, insight-driven agronomics, operational excellence and sustainable solutions delivered under the WinField United, WinField and United Suppliers brands, the business helps retailers successfully meet farmers’ needs.
WinField United is a trademark and WinField is a registered trademark of Winfield Solutions, LLC.
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