Leaf diagnostics. Are your plants hungry?

Plant analysis is a useful tool for growers of all crops and for crop management, both this season and future crops, especially when combined with soil tests. But, unfortunately, this analysis is often not paid enough attention.

Two different approaches can be used to analyze plants: the first is a diagnostic approach, and the second is a monitoring approach. The diagnostic approach is recommended to be used when the symptoms of deficiency and lack of nutrients in plants are detected visually. At the same time, it is possible to compare plants with obvious signs of deficiency with healthy plants. The monitoring approach is recommended to be used as a report for making current decisions about the state of plant development, as well as for making decisions in the next year.

Leaf diagnostics. Are your plants hungry?

When to take a plant sample? 

So, for example, for corn, for the monitoring approach, it is recommended to take samples six times during the growing season (at six different stages of development):

  • 3-5 leafs
  • 6-9 leafs
  • 10-14 leafs
  • 15-18 leafs
  • throwing a panicle 
  • pistillate columns turn brown

When sampling corn leaves, it is necessary to select the top, fully developed leaf from each plant. Samples of leaf material do not need to be cut, they just need to be torn from the plant. The torn-off sheet is folded in half and placed in a paper bag. Fifteen to twenty-five leaves should be collected from a plot or field to obtain a properly representative sample.

It is known that nutrient requirements change during plant growth and development. Therefore, when selecting samples, it is necessary to clearly understand at what stage of growth the plant is, because this information is necessary for further interpretation of the results. It is also important to select appropriate parts of the plant to obtain a representative sample throughout the sampling area.

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After the analysis, a report is generated that indicates the concentration of each nutrient in your plant (for macronutrients – in percent, for micronutrients – in mg/kg). Also, levels of sufficiency (according to culture and stage of selection) are given for each of the elements: deficiency, low, sufficient, high or excessive.

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Does it make sense to analyze plants if I am not able to adjust the nutrition during the season?

Yes! Even though the advantage of plant analysis is that nutrient deficiencies can be corrected in the same season, great benefit can still be found. By collecting plant and soil analysis data over time, you will be able to identify upward or downward trends in yield, which will help guide future lime and fertilizer application decisions.

So are my plants hungry?

There is only one way to find out – to send a sample of plant material to the Agrotest Laboratory. Waiting for visual symptoms of deficiency or results at harvest can cost you dearly and significantly reduce your planned

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