Jim Camberato's phone has rung much more than normal this spring. He is an Extension agronomist and soil fertility specialist at Purdue University. Farmers and ag dealers want to know if symptoms they're seeing in crops are signs of nutrient deficiencies.
The truth is that many of them are, and some of the symptoms are classic, such as the browning around the edge of corn plants, he notes. But the problem is not necessarily a shortage of the nutrient in the soil. It may be that due to dry weather and rooting issues, the roots have not been able to access the nutrient and get enough of it into the plant.
Many Indiana soils are borderline on potassium levels anyway. But soil tests may have indicated there should have been enough present to produce a crop, but yet deficiency symptoms are showing up. That's where the effect of dry weather and poor rooting comes in, Camberato notes.
If you have plants which appear to be deficient in nutrients, he recommends pulling soil samples there and having a lab determine if the soil is actually deficient or not.
Manganese deficiency symptoms wills sometimes show up in soybeans in dry conditions, he notes. If so it may be necessary and worth the expense to apply manganese in a foliar application. However, there is no foliar application for potassium that will help deficient plants this year.
A couple of years ago it was so dry in the fall that it was difficult to take soil samples. Some ad dealerships even put their testing on hold for clients until conditions changed. This year could wind up like that unless the pattern changes and rain begins to fall. Remember that is soils maples are pulled at various time so the year, it may affect the results. It won't be like comparing apples to apples.