When it comes to raising healthy crops, you cannot rely on the benefits of just one essential nutrient. A well-rounded balance of key micro- and macronutrients is critical to maximizing your crop’s yield potential. One nutrient that has not always been as highly prioritized, but is becoming recognized for its importance in healthy plant development, is zinc (Zn).
The Benefits of Zinc
Zinc is important in the plant’s protein intake ability. Optimal amounts of zinc help make other nutrients more available to the plant including phosphorus. Zinc also affects flowering and seed development. In corn, it supports silk development and grain production. Plants with access to the appropriate amounts of zinc have a better hormonal balance and a steadier metabolic process.
Because zinc is a micronutrient, plants only need a small amount to realize all the benefits. For deficient soil, growers can effectively raise the zinc levels by applying one to three pounds per acre. Although it can be a simple solution, ensuring that your crops have access to zinc is an effective way to protect the yield potential.
Causes of Zinc Deficiencies
There is often a distinguishable reason for a zinc deficiency. Low zinc rates are less common than deficiencies in other nutrients, including phosphorus and nitrogen, but this does not make zinc deficiencies less important to manage.
Soil conditions can also play a big role in zinc deficiencies. Alkaline soil is not an ideal environment for zinc. High pH soils, over 7.2, can cause zinc to immobilize and become unavailable to the plant. Sandy soils and eroded soil also cannot hold the appropriate amounts of zinc that crops need to thrive, since these soil types are highly leachable. Soil with extreme amounts of organic matter (OM), both high and low, can also cause zinc deficiencies.
Planting conditions can also have an effect on the availability of zinc in your fields. If you plant in cold, wet conditions and the temperature drops after the plants have emerged, the soil’s ability to release zinc can be drastically reduced. Low microbial activity due to these colder temperatures can also restrict zinc’s availability to the developing plants.
High levels of certain macronutrients can also lead to problems with micronutrient availability. Fields that receive too much phosphorus can make it difficult for zinc to move the phosphorus from the roots and up through the plant. The two nutrients work best when the levels of each are balanced. Furthermore, applying too much lime or manure to your field can also negatively impact zinc levels in the soil.
Symptoms of Zinc Deficiencies
There are several ways to identify if your fields have a zinc deficiency, including soil testing, tissue testing and visual symptoms. Soil testing is less effective, as it only reveals the levels of zinc in the soil, rather than the accessibility of the nutrient to the crop. Visual symptoms can be easier to diagnose in some crops versus others.
For example, it is easier to see visual proof of a zinc deficiency once the corn is about knee-high. Yellowing, white stripes and growth stunting are all signs of a zinc deficiency, but they can often also be mistaken as iron or manganese deficiencies. The best way to find out which nutrient your plants are lacking is to perform a tissue test. Tissue testing will show whether the plants have a zinc deficiency, either because the soil is low in zinc or because it is not available to the plant.
How to Avoid Deficiencies
Since soil and environmental conditions are a primary cause of zinc deficiencies, it is easier to anticipate whether you need to take precautionary actions to ensure your plants are able to access the optimal amount of nutrients necessary to help reach their full yield potential. Incorporating zinc applications into your starter fertilizer program is a great way to counter these conditions.
Levesol Zn™, the most recent addition to West Central’s premium fertilizer inputs and part of the Levesol® family, was designed specifically for fields prone to zinc deficiencies. Levesol Zn is a premix of the Levesol chelate and a high quality 9% EDTA zinc that increases the length of time the zinc is available to the plant.
Levesol Zn eliminates the need to add zinc to your starter fertilizer program and optimizes the plant’s availability to the other nutrients in your starter fertilizer program including iron, copper and magnesium to help the crop maximize its yield potential.
Compatible with a wide variety of starter fertilizer options, Levesol Zn can be blended with most primary, secondary and micronutrients and crop protection products. The ortho-ortho EDDHA chelate also has a new defoamer system that reduces foaming when mixing.
Levesol ZN can be added to your phosphorus based starter program for corn, soybeans, dry beans, potatoes, sugar beets, sorghum and other crops that would benefit from additional nutrient accessibility.
When plants are able to access key micronutrients, such as zinc, it increases the speed of emergence, improves overall plant health and ultimately helps optimize the crop’s yield potential. Find out if your field may be prone to zinc deficiencies and counter the problem by incorporating Levesol Zn with your starter fertilizer application this spring.
For more information on Levesol Zn and other West Central fertility products, visit www.wcdst.com.