In previous posts, we have explained the concept of nutrient availability, and how important it is for a crop’s development. Despite proven research and data about in-furrow fertilization methods that allow more nutrient uptake for crops in early growth stages, growers still might wonder, “How do I know for sure that what I’m doing is working to make these nutrients more available for my crops?”
This is an important question to consider, because purchasing fertilizer or other products that are designed to make nutrients more available is an investment, and growers want to be sure that they’ll see a significant return on that investment.
Measuring a corn plant’s stalk diameter and observing its root mass are a couple of good indicators to judge the plant’s overall health. A larger stalk diameter and a more robust root mass indicates a healthier plant than one that has a smaller stalk and less complex root system. These signs are easily observable throughout the growing season, even in the early stages.
A plant’s nodal and brace roots allow it to absorb the water and nutrients that are essential for its health and survival. Therefore, a healthy crop is a direct result of a healthy root system. In order for a plant’s roots to absorb the required nutrients, those nutrients must be available in the soil for uptake by the plant.
Stalk strength is determined, in part, by its diameter. A stronger corn stalk will have better standability, and less potential for the stalk to break underneath the ear before harvest. When stalks break, they can cause yields to suffer, so the goal is to have a strong, healthy crop.
There is no magic number that indicates a healthy crop when it comes to stalk diameter; much of it depends on the overall crop population. If there is a large crop population, the stalk sizes will naturally be smaller because the crops are closer together.
Measuring root mass and stalk diameter are examples of ways for a grower to evaluate the success of his or her fertility methods, and start the decision making process for next season.
Ultimately, these are pieces of the puzzle that affect yields and return on investment. Stay in touch with how you can maximize your yield potential and increase your profitability.