Many factors have a strong impact on a crop’s maturity such as the amount of moisture and sunlight/heat. We can measure the latter using Growing Degree Days (GDD’s). It can give a solid indication and confirmation of what we are seeing in the field. Take this year as an example, while many are left wondering where summer went (or if we even had it) in many parts of the prairies, we can measure the GDD’s and see we are many days behind normal. Now for a crop, it takes a range of GDD’s to progress from one stage to another. Genetics can influence this progressing, but so can nutrition. As a matter of fact, nutrition probably has a greater effect than it gets credit for.
Let's take a look at some of the nutrients impacting crop maturity.
Phosphorus (P) is key in the development of plant tissues and is often referred to as the “root and shoot” nutrient. If you want a strong root system, P needs to be a part of the fertility program. P is plant-available as orthophosphate, which is a key component in ATP. ATP is the energy in a plant. With lots of energy, a plant can complete its growth quicker. This can be right from early growth with a pop-up effect from in row P fertilizer to helping it overcome any other stresses experienced in the growing season.
Boron (B) is involved in many plant processes. Even flowering is tied very tightly to adequate B supply to the plant. The quicker and more evenly flowering can be done, the sooner the plant can move on to filling pods/head. Additionally, B is required very early on in root development. Without a proper B supply, root growth will suffer, and roots will be missing those all-important root hairs that access other nutrients and water. B is also important in grain formation and quality.
Copper (Cu) is crucial in grain formation and quality, which means it will impact the maturity and consistency of grain production. Cu is also a major component in a crop’s standability. We all know that the yield, quality and maturity are negatively impacted when a crop falls.
Manganese (Mn) is often overlooked when talking micronutrients of crops. However, it is heavily involved in the plants' ability to maximize photosynthesis. It works as an enzyme activator and promotes better nitrogen utilization. If the plant has reduced stress and is capturing adequate sunlight, it will grow quicker.
Zinc (Zn) is last but not least when it comes to the importance of its role in the plant. Much like B, Zn is involved in a multitude of plant processes. Starting at the beginning of year, it is important for early season root development. Throughout the growing season, it is also involved in maximizing photosynthesis. Finally, at the end of the growing season, it is a major component of grain formation and quality.
Contact your local Yara representative to learn more.