One of the most important things you can do throughout the season to help increase yield potential is to ensure your crops have adequate nutrition. You can check nutrient levels by working with your agronomist to take multiple tissue samples throughout the season (often in concert with soil samples) to determine if critical nutrients are lacking.

More than 300,000 tissue samples have been analyzed through the WinField NutriSolutions 360 system over the past six years, building a robust plant nutrition database to help farmers make fact-based planning decisions. Combining this information with traditional soil testing and other advanced technologies provides the means to identify precise plant nutrient programs that can help achieve excellent return potential.

Here is a quick rundown of what we’re seeing currently in corn, soybean and cotton crops in our area; recommendations for optimal times to take tissue samples during the season; and what national NutriSolutions tissue sampling data is telling us about the most deficient nutrients.

Corn

In-field snapshot: Planting is later than normal this year. We finished planting corn in the upper South in late April, and our first tissue sample results arrived around May 15 from the mid-South. What we have seen for the past four or five years is zinc deficiencies in corn upwards of V5 or V6; and potassium, magnesium and potentially boron deficiencies in corn from V9 to V11. Nitrogen levels depend on how much rain we received. We’ve had a lot this spring before, during and after nitrogen applications, so I’d expect some nitrogen deficiencies.

Tissue sample timing: We recommend taking tissue samples before the plant is making a physiological change so that if there are any nutrient deficiencies, you can correct them and have the greatest opportunity for a return on investment. Complete your first tissue sample at V4 to V6, another at V9 to V11, and the last one at VT. 

Tissue sample trends: Of the more than 41,500 NutriSolutions corn tissue samples taken in 2014, the most common nutrient deficiencies were zinc (approximately 75% of tissue samples were deficient), nitrogen (nearly 70% were deficient), and boron and potassium (both were approximately 65% deficient).

Soybeans

In-field snapshot: Planting of soybeans occurred in mid- to late-May, so we don’t have any tissue samples as yet.

Tissue sample timing: Take the first tissue sample between V3 and V5, when the plant is determining how many nodes it is going to have. Of course, nodes lead to fruiting sites, which lead to flowers, which lead to pods. You want to have your nutrition in order at that time to get the maximum genetic potential of the nodes. Later in the season, take two tissue samples between R1 (beginning bloom) and R4 (full pod). 

Tissue sample trends: The nearly 10,000 NutriSolutions soybean tissue samples taken in 2014 indicated the most common deficiencies were copper (just over 60% of tissue samples were deficient), potassium (approximately 52% deficient) and manganese (nearly 40% were deficient).

Cotton

In-field snapshot: Cotton was planted in mid-May, so we don’t have any tissue samples yet. 

Tissue sample timing: We recommend taking tissue samples for cotton at pinhead square, bloom, full bloom and boll fill. We see big potassium deficiencies in cotton. From full bloom through boll fill, we also see boron deficiencies. A lot of farmers in the South apply boron every time they go across their fields. We recommend taking a tissue sample and letting the plant tell you what it needs. It may need other nutrients or it may not need the boron.

Tissue sample trends: Of the more than 1,600 NutriSolutions tissue samples taken in cotton in 2014, the most common deficiencies were potassium (approximately 85% of tissue samples were deficient), boron (60% were deficient) and zinc (approximately 59% were deficient).

Talk with your WinField representative about how in-season tissue sampling with the NutriSolutions 360™ system, and making any necessary foliar nutrient applications with WinField MAX-IN micronutrients, can help you stay ahead of the plant nutrition game all season long.