At this stage, it is still possible to grow a profitable crop
· Finishing moisture is more important than winter rains (especially when there is sub-soil moisture).
· The goal is to grow a FIT Crop not a FAT crop.
· ZINC: Important for root tip formation, fertility, grain quality & number of grains per year.
· MANGANESE: Important for energy production & disease resistance.
· COPPER: Important for flower fertility – hence people applying at and during flowering. Improves grain quality.
What the experts say
Leading nutritional and broadacre Agronomist Jan De Jager states “often we see crops at this time of the year that have good vegetative matter and it seems we are in for a bumper year. However, if we have no spring rain the added vegetative matter results in more moisture utilisation and poor grain fill. Don’t miss out on trace elements – small money can make a big difference. Trace elements are in the top 10cm. If that is dry, then the plants cannot take it up – spray on is more effective. Trace elements are very important in the plants anti-oxygen system. We don’t need fat (showy) vegetative crop to achieve good yields. They use too much moisture during growing and then run out towards the filling stages. We need a fit crop and if we have some moisture available in Sept/Oct it will fill out wide and well. The finish is the important part” (De Jager, 2017).
This is supported in Wayne Smith’s recent newsletter (June 2017) suggesting that it is not too late to gain a profitable crop. “As for trace elements, these are crucial and only small amounts are needed. Therefore, they are economic to use if there is a deficiency in a droughted crop. $3 of urea will make no difference, but $3 of copper in a copper deficient crop can make a very significant difference. When the top 10-20cm is dry, the plant has no ability to extract trace elements from the soil. If the plant is showing deficiency symptoms, and there is a reasonable chance the crop will make it to the end of grain filling. It will be worth spraying the trace element that it needs.” (Smith, 2017)
Take home message
· If you have a crop in the ground it is NOT too late
· Trace elements are crucial if there is high pH or deficient soils
· Experts recommend application of trace elements for grain yield and quality