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What Could a Dry Season Mean for Your Crops?

  • Apr 02, 2019
Close up of dry field with early season corn plants
Abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions could have an impact on crop production in some areas, causing extra challenges for farmers trying to maximize yield potential. Even though some parts of the country may be seeing plenty of moisture now, we all know conditions can change quickly. Here’s some information to help you prepare for a dry season.

1. How is plant nutrition affected when a crop is under drought stress?
Some nutrients, including nitrogen, sulfur and boron, are taken up by the plant through mass flow, meaning they move with water. When water is limited in the soil, those nutrients won’t move as freely into the root zone for plant uptake. As a plant senses drought stress, it responds by closing the stomata on the leaf's surface to try to limit moisture loss. While that does help the plant cope with drought stress, it also slows the movement of water and nutrients into the plant.

2. Are there things you can do to prepare for a dry season?
In areas that are more accustomed to limited rainfall, choosing drought-tolerant genetics is important. But anything you can do to promote root growth is going to help with water and nutrient uptake, especially if you can’t predict whether or not your fields will face dry conditions this season. Applying a quality plant growth regulator such as Ascend® Pro can help stimulate root growth, in both wet and dry conditions.  

3. Are there any in-season adjustments you can make to salvage crops in drought-stressed fields?
There are actions you can take to help mitigate the effects of drought stress. One is to tissue sample crops to understand how well they are taking up nutrients from the soil. If you sample when plants are affected by drought conditions and find multiple nutrient deficiencies, it's important to understand why those deficiencies are occurring. It may not be that nutrients are limited in the soil, rather they may not be able to get into the plant due to lack of moisture. If there’s still time in the season, that nutrient accessibility barrier can often be overcome by supplementing a foliar nutrient application that absorbs directly into plant tissue, instead of relying solely on soil moisture for uptake.

You may also consider foliar-applied biostimulants, including Voyagro. Biostimulants can trigger responses within the plant that make it more tolerant to drought or other environmental stresses.

While it’s impossible to know what challenges crops will face this season, it’s important to control the things you can to help protect yield potential. For more information about planning nutrient strategies, talk with your locally owned and operated WinField United retailer.

© 2019 WinField United. Ascend® Pro and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.



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