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Sponsored: A Recipe for Higher Yield

How to best target the soil pH to your crops

Pulling soil samples this fall could ensure higher yield in 2017 by providing you with the recipe needed to tailor the soil pH to your spring-planted crops.

Soil sampling is a proactive way to determine how to best manage a field’s nutrients, and quality soil samples provide the soil analysis needed to develop the most profitable fertility plan to optimize yield.

After fall harvest, conventional and minimum-till growers should sample soil at a 6-inch depth, while no-till fields should be sampled at a 2-inch depth for lime recommendations and at a 4- to 6-inch depth for fertilizer recommendations. Soil sampling should be done during the same time of year on an ongoing basis to account for seasonal variability with pH and nutrient levels.

Soil sample can be taken every three to four years; low-buffering soils, like sandier soils are recommended to be sampled every one to two years. Randomly collecting and mixing 15 to 20 soil cores from across a 10- to 20-acre field is the quickest way to create a sample. In comparison, grid sampling evenly distributes samples across the field.

Sampling right after harvest gives ample time to analyze data and to develop a plan tailored to your field soil types and textures, organic matter and pH levels. Most agronomic crops prefer a pH between 6 and 7, and improper pH levels can equate to limited crop growth, reduced nutrient availability, restricted root growth and increased toxicity to some elements.

Corn hybrid selection and fertility planning are key in alkaline, or high-pH soils (above 7.0). High-pH soils reduce the availability of plant nutrients, including zinc, iron and phosphorus. Interveinal yellow stripes on middle to upper leaves are signs of iron deficiency, while white stripes on young leaves are characteristic of zinc deficiency. Dark green or purple coloring of lower leaves indicates phosphorus deficiencies.

Matching your corn hybrid selection with the pH level present in a field’s soil can help maximize yield potential. For example, hybrids planted into a high-pH climate should exhibit the proper combination of visual chlorosis rating score and above-average yield potential for that soil pH.

Once the proper corn hybrid is selected, it is equally important to manage nutrients for maximum crop yield. Mycogen Seeds agronomists say high-pH soils require higher levels of zinc, sulfur, iron and phosphorus. A combined starter treatment of zinc, iron, sulfur and phosphorus at planting is recommended. The sulfur will amend the soil and lower pH in the root zone, making nutrients more available for uptake by the corn plant.

For more information, consult your local Mycogen Seeds representative.

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