Potassium’s Critical Role in Crops
Potassium (K) plays a role in many crop functions, but its importance is often overlooked and misunderstood. Potassium is critical for cell division, formation of sugars and protein synthesis. When it comes to fruit and nut quality, K plays a major role in fruit color, size and weight. It also helps the plant resist disease.
In many soils, low K levels may not be the reason tissue tests show deficiency. There may be adequate soil K, but it may be fixed in the soil, and the release rate may be slow. This is true especially in heavier soils where the release rate doesn’t keep up with crop demand. I refer you to an article in Helena’s archives on this very subject titled Identifying Potassium Fixation on Your Farm. The article was written by Dr. Karl Wyant, Helena’s Lead Agronomist, on March 24, 2015.
The application of common K sources will help, but the efficiency of the application may be less than acceptable to the grower. Foliar applications will give a quick increase in tissue levels but will not be sufficient by themselves to supply all the K the plant needs to produce a high-quality, high-yielding crop.
Another option would be to use Nucleus 0-0-15 or 0-0-21. These two high-quality K products have a unique fit for supplying additional K to the crop. Nucleus 0-0-15 and 0-0-21 provide K without the limitations of conventional sources such as soil tie-up, high rates, clogged filters, corroded fittings, etc. As with foliar K sources, these products are not meant to be the main source of K for the crop. They should be used as a shot in the arm to supplement the overall K needs to produce a high-quality crop. The best application timing is prior to heavy crop demand such as fruit and nut sizing or filling, but they can be applied safely during any crop stage.
The best return for your investment will be seen when the soil K levels are in the medium to high range. Contact your local Helena representative to supplement your K needs with Nucleus 0-0-15 or 0-0-21.
- Greg Selna, Product Manager