Early Bird Gets the Best Information

A green growing crop is a wonderful sight, and it is used by many people as an indicator of a healthy crop’s nutrient status. If you happen to have fields with some yellowing areas, the yellow color may be an indicator of a nutrient deficiency. A tissue sample should be collected within 7-10 days of symptoms development to get the best data and to have time to make a nutrient application if possible. Most commonly, a crop which is yellowing may be deficient in nitrogen, sulfur, or both. If detected early, there is time for a rescue treatment. Yellowing can also be caused by non-nutrient factors such as soil compaction, disease, or saturated soils.

Plant analysis is not a magical tool, but it can provide useful information when combined with a soil test and good field scouting. If you are troubleshooting a problem area in a field, it is important to collect good and bad tissue samples as well as a good and bad soil samples from each area. With this information, you can see if the symptoms are being caused by one or more nutrient deficiencies or other issues. The picture shows a spring wheat field in the tillering stage with yellow areas. The tissue and soil samples (good and bad) determined that sulfur was deficient in the yellow areas, and the grower had options for applying sulfur to correct the sulfur nutrient deficiency.

Another use for tissue analysis is irrigated potato production where plant analysis (along with soil analysis) is done weekly to help schedule nitrogen applications. Plant analysis can also be used to evaluate your P & K fertilizer program. If you have recently changed from all broadcast-applied P & K to more band-applied P & K, tissue analysis can help you determine if your new program is supplying enough nutrients to the crop.

Common uses for plant tissue analysis:

  1. Troubleshoot symptoms to determine if there are nutrient deficiencies (good and bad tissue sample with good and bad soil sample).
  2. Discover which nutrient is causing symptoms (e.g., N or S).
  3. Help make in-season fertilization decisions (e.g., N on irrigated potatoes).
  4. Evaluate effectiveness of the fertility program in use.

Get an early start with tissue sampling to head off nutrient deficiencies promptly; they may be corrected if detected early. Winter wheat and early seeded spring wheat are nearing or just past tillering stage in our region. If there are yellowing areas in your fields, now is the time to collect tissue and soil samples to determine if a nutrient deficiency is the issue. If nitrogen or sulfur deficiency is detected early, a rescue treatment can be applied with little or no loss of yield.  To learn more about collecting proper tissue samples and interpreting s tissue report, click on the following links.

Link to tissue sampling guide

Link to interpreting a tissue report

Please call one of our offices (701-587-6010) if you need plant analysis sampling supplies or technical assistance.