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It’s that time of year again, crops are being scouted and the many variables that contribute to crop production are creating some nutrient deficiencies.
Too dry, too wet, too hot, too cool, variety X vs variety Y, compaction, planting depth, nutrient interactions and many more factors all mingle together to make crops look the way they look.
We can all access diagnostic pictures to help us figure out which nutrient is lacking to make a crop look like it does. Unfortunately when we notice the deficiency, yield is already being impacted. Before crops show visible signs of nutrients lacking, they will look normal but be suffering a “hidden hunger”, where the nutrient is at too low a level to maximize yield, but doesn’t exhibit visual signs. Several nutrient deficiencies also look very similar to each other which can also complicate the matter.
The best method to remove any doubt is to get out into the crop and pull a tissue sample, submit it to an accredited lab and usually within 2 days the report will be back summarizing the exact nutrient status of the crop. If there are poor areas of a field it’s a good idea to also sample the healthier areas to have a comparative. Cross referencing them against soil samples also brings more clarity to the situation.