2019 - Where Do We Go from Here?

It would be an understatement to say that the 2019 planting season has had its challenges, and has likely set the stage for a challenging growing season. Prolonged wet weather can be a factor in a number of critical stresses for the crop, including enhanced disease pressures, the prolonged impact of the standing water, and the potential for rooting impacts from possibly planting in less than ideal soil conditions. This newsletter contains a few articles that address questions that we have been receiving and those that we expect may arise in the new few weeks.

With so many factors that can cause crop stress, there will be an increased need to scout fields and diagnose problems during the 2019 growing season. Be sure to take a soil probe, shovel, soil sample bags, and plant sample bags with you to scout fields. A soil or tissue sample that comes back with an abnormal value is usually seen as valuable information in determining a cause, but it may be incomplete,  as tissue or soil samples that comes back normal can also provide valuable information.

It is recommended that soil and plant tissue samples are collected together, as the relationship between these types of analyses can provide great insight.

  • If both come back normal, then the issue is likely not fertility related. Instead, the focus should be on cultural and environmental factors. Be sure to dig the plant and evaluate the roots and seedbed for additional clues that may be pertinent to the diagnosis.
  • If the tissue samples indicate a deficiency while the soil sample indicates sufficient levels of nutrients, then the soil likely has the capacity to provide the needed nutrients, but the plant is not accessing them. In this case your focus should be to identify why the plant was not able to access the nutrients. Digging plants to access root distribution, density, and architecture can help to identify restrictions due to compaction or restricted rooting due to soil saturation. Restricted roots can play a big role in limiting a plants ability to access nutrients.
  • If the tissue sample comes back near normal to low, and the soil test is low, then a nutrient deficiency should be suspected. Often, less than ideal soil conditions can exacerbate underlying issues that have not presented themselves in the past. Keep in mind some of these nutrient issues may be addressed with an in-season application. However, others may be a project to begin working on for subsequent cropping years.

If you can, be sure to brush up on crop physiology! That knowledge can be very helpful when diagnosing environmental and cultural crop challenges. For example, for the first few weeks the roots of a plant are prominently providing water to the growing seedlings and the nutrients are coming from the seed, so the information provided by a plant tissue analysis must be taken in context with many other factors. For more information check out our newsletter article “Get the Most from Early Plant Tissue Analysis”. Please call your ALGL agronomist if you have any sampling questions.

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