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Sulphur, Sulphur, Sulphur, Sulphur. And one more for good measure; Sulphur! Have you heard the latest craze for Sulphur in row crops? Of course you have! Everywhere you turn somebody is talking about Sulphur. Why even Mr. Cereals himself @wheatpete is toting the value of adding Sulphur to your fertilizer program. Take a second right now and ask yourself why all of a sudden Sulphur is the hot topic everyone is chiming in on?
The quick and easy answer to the Sulphur craze is acid rain or rather the lack of acid rain. Society as a whole has been doing such a good job at becoming ecofriendly that all of a sudden what used to be Sulphur infused rain is no longer Sulphur infused. But wait a minute, shouldn’t someone have seen this coming??? Yes, as an industry we should have, but who thinks to look towards the sky when planning your fertility program?
So what’s the skinny on Sulphur (S) you ask? I suppose first and foremost you need to understand what role S plays in the plant’s development. Without getting too technical, S is a key component in the production of proteins, as well as the formation of chlorophyll. The amount of S needed of course varies with each crop and with each stage of the plant’s life cycle, but on a whole, S is almost a macronutrient and not just a secondary nutrient. In laymen terms that means we need a lot of S or the plant will not produce the almighty yield that pays the bills.
Now that we have established the importance of S, your 2016 crop is already in the ground and you didn’t use any extra S in your fertilizer. What do you do now? Well don’t fret just yet, let those plants get started and they will tell you whether or not they are in need of S. This is where you need to be extremely careful in diagnosing a true S deficiency. The problem is that an S deficiency looks an awful lot like a nitrogen deficiency. If you are not going to contact your local CCA or agronomist (which I fully suggest you do), there are a few simple tricks you can use. S is not as mobile in the plant as N is, therefore the older leaves will not be showing the S deficiency as much as the newer growth will be. Take extreme care in diagnosing the problem correctly, an N application on an S deficient crop can make the matter a lot worse. Or on the flip side, an S application on an N deficient crop will cause the crop to turn green briefly and then you will be back to the same problem again. When in doubt, take a tissue test. Better yet, get that CCA or agronomist to do it for you! There are many accredited sample labs that can run a tissue test for you in a very brief amount of time and for a nominal charge.
If you find that you do have a confirmed S deficiency, now what? Well, you are in luck. It just so happens that your Alpine Dealer has got the answer for you, and that answer comes in the form of a foliar fertilizer application. The good news gets even better, you have more than one solution! Should your S deficiency be mild, an application of ALPINE K20-S with the K-Tech potassium is an excellent way to get some Sulphur and have the added benefits of the K-Tech product. The other option for a more severe deficiency is ALPINE K-Thio mixed with a little ALPINE SRN. Both are great sources of S and can be foliar applied to alleviate your S woes.
Don’t let your crops catch the Sulphur fever, contact your ALPINE dealer or DSM for proper rates and application procedures today!