Maximize Fruit and Nut Quality with Targeted Applications of Potassium
Potassium (K) is one of the most essential nutrients associated with tree and vine production, and it is commonly the most misapplied. Lack of K early in fruit/nut development can lead to smaller fruit/nuts, lower TSS/sugars in grapes, uneven ripening, and poor color development. Leaf deficiencies result in necrosis (cell death) of leaf tips and margins, beginning on older leaves, as well as increased susceptibility to water stress and plant pathogens. In plants, K is involved in many essential functions, including:
- Regulating water pressure in plant cells, affecting cell extension, gas exchange, and movement of leaves in response to light
- Activating enzymes that help facilitate chemical reactions
- Synthesizing proteins
- Adjusting pH within plant cells
- Increasing carbon dioxide fixation during photosynthesis
- Transporting chemical compounds
- Balancing electrical charges in various parts of cells
Potassium is generally readily available in most soils. However, trees and vines usually can’t uptake enough K to satisfy crop requirements during peak demand. This spike in demand starts just before fruit/nut set and continues through sizing. Since K moves into the roots through diffusion (very short distances in the soil), drought, deficit irrigation, high salinity, sandy soils and high soil levels of calcium and magnesium can all adversely affect K uptake. The key concept in potassium fertility is getting readily available K into the tree/vine early and often so the plant has time to metabolize it and actively translocate carbohydrates to the fruit/nuts.
Fortunately, Helena has the tools to mitigate K deficiencies and effectively maximize the K you apply. A two-pronged program (soil- and foliar-applied K) efficiently delivers optimum K to the trees/vines in a timely fashion.
A major challenge for conventional potassium fertilizers is increasing the mobility of potassium in the soil. In Helena’s soil-applied portion of the program, Nucleus 0-0-21 or Nucleus 0-0-15 is recommended. These Nucleus products utilize Kalium Formulation Technology to increase the solubility and mobility of potassium in the soil. This package overcomes fertilizer inefficiencies and potassium fixation by soil colloids. Another benefit is unsurpassed compatibility with other liquid fertilizers, making it an ideal blending partner.
The cornerstone of our foliar program is a tank mix of K-Leaf Versa and Utilize PK. Foliar-applied K can be difficult for trees/vines to absorb, especially formulations which utilize flowable or micronized suspensions. With K-Leaf Versa and Utilize PK, you get true liquids designed for rapid uptake and metabolism.
K-Leaf Versa is a concentrated potassium solution utilizing ENC Formulation Technology with 0-0-29 NPK and a complete micronutrient package. It is compatible with most pesticides and other foliar nutritional products. Utilize PK is a nutrient solution formulated with Goëmar, a known physiological activator, which can speed up plant metabolic processes to help trees and vines acquire and utilize higher levels of soil and foliar nutrients. This powerful combination drives applied potassium where it’s needed most, the leaves. There, it’s metabolized and boosts carbohydrate translocation to the fruit/nuts. This results in the trees/vines receiving the potassium they require during the most critical times fruit/nut development.
- Paul W. Crout, CCA, PCA, Helena Product Manager and Agronomist