Are your crops stressed?
Imagine you're out in the field scouting your young canola crop. It's been, say, three or four weeks since you seeded and you want to have a look at it before you make that first spray pass – just to check what's happening, what insects or disease might be there, assess crop staging, make sure you have the right stuff to put in the tank. You know – the usual.
Now let's say you notice some wilting here and there. Or maybe there's one area where the plants seem a bit behind the rest of the field. Is that a seeding issue, or are the plants stressed in some way?
Diagnosing a problem accurately is half the battle when it comes to fixing it. The other half is being prepared with the right solution for the right problem. As you scout crops before spraying, ask yourself key questions, such as:
- How widespread is the problem? Field-wide, or is there some kind of pattern?
- What parts of the plants are affected, and what does the damage look like?
- What's the disease/insect history of the field?
- Can you see and identify any disease or insect pests?
- Does this variety have any particular susceptibilities? Is it cold hardy, for example, or drought tolerant?
Plant stress from disease or insects is usually fairly easy to determine and chemical solutions straightforward. BUT keep in mind that symptoms of nutrient deficiency can look very similar to disease symptoms, and knowing your field history is important when diagnosing a problem.
Abiotic stressors – such as soil and air temperatures, frost, hail, too much or too little rain - present a different challenge. What can you do about the weather, after all? Perhaps nothing, but you can do something about plant health and recovery from stressful situations, even after crop emergence.
Nutrition and Stress
It's a simple premise, and a true one, that strong and healthy plants are better able to overcome environmental stressors.
You already take care of your crops' macronutrient needs with customized fertilizer plans. But more and more farmers are realizing that plant nutrition doesn't stop with N, P, K and S and that strategically including micronutrients in an overall nutrition plan can boost plant nutrition and health throughout the season for a better overall outcome.
That's because foliar applied micronutrients let you react immediately when a scouting trip reveals crop stress in the field. Or, if you know there's a history of disease or nutrient imbalance in a field, you can proactively apply micronutrients to maximize yield potential.
Included with a herbicide or fungicide application, they deliver key nutrients plants need to recover from a cold snap or even hail damage by improving nutrient uptake and plant metabolism - kind of like a booster shot to help a stressed crop get back on its feet again.
A complete Nutritional Plan
Micronutrients work hand-in-hand with your macronutrient plan. Whether you're growing canola, cereals or pulses, proper levels of fertilizer put down at seeding is critical to getting crops the food they need to get going.
Micronutrients can then be used to help improve plant health throughout the season, and give crops the nutrition they need to cope with weather events, and improve overall field performance and yield.
So get out there and scout regularly throughout the season, and keep an eye out for signs of crop stress with the knowledge that, if you see it, there is something you can do about it right now.