Plant Analysis

Get Started Early

Green growing crops is a wonderful sight. Many people use this green color as an indicator of a crops nutrient status. One problem with using color as an indicator of plant health is once symptoms are visible, yield loss has probably already occurred. Color changes also don’t tell you what is causing the problem. A crop, which is yellowing, may be deficient in nitrogen, sulfur, or a combination of deficiencies. Yellowing might also be caused by soil compaction or a disease organism.

Plant analysis, while not a magical tool, is a wonderful aid when used with a current soil test and good field scouting. The key in plant analysis is becoming familiar with it and using it regularly. Detective work on obvious problems in fields is only one way plant analysis is used. By the time symptoms are visible, 10-15% yield loss may already have occurred.

One of the most under utilized uses for plant analysis is a “confirmation” test. Plant analysis is a great way to “confirm” your production system (i.e. fertilizer rate & placement, tillage, rotation, etc.).  It is also a great way to accumulate local information on specific varieties.

There are some situations where plant analysis is the only tool that can assist us. Plant analysis is the only tool that can evaluate if your “P” & “K” fertilizer placement and rates are doing the job. Plant analysis is also one of the only tools which can assist irrigated potato growers in scheduling nitrogen applications. In general, there are four uses for plant analysis:

  1. Detect hidden hunger or nutrient deficiencies, which aren’t expressing symptoms yet but may reduce yields by 10-15%
  2. Evaluate the fertility program in use for effectiveness
  3. Discover which nutrient is causing symptoms (i.e. N or S)
  4. Regulate fertilizer inputs (i.e. – N on irrigated potatoes)

So get an early start and head off those problems, which can be corrected if, found early.   If you need plant analysis sampling supplies or technical assistance, please give us a call.