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Foliar phosphate to kick-start growth

The early spring growth period in cereal crops is an essential phase during which the foundation for high biomass is established. Biomass is a fundamental prerequisite to achieving high grain yields, this biomass is the result of achieving a good population of main shoots and tillers.

The tillering phase commences after leaf 3 is fully expanded and generally finishes when the ‘double-ridge’ stage of development is reached (i.e. just before GS 30.) This growth stage is typically reached by mid-March. The final number of tillers can therefore be manipulated through the appropriate use of inputs. One such input is crop nutrition. Nutrient deficiencies, especially nitrogen and phosphate, will limit early spring growth and development, thus reducing the number of tillers produced – this is then exacerbated even more in waterlogged conditions, such as we have experienced this winter.

The root structure of waterlogged crops will be poor - small and potentially damaged roots means a lower ability to scavenge the limited nutrients from the soil. Phosphate in particular, which is unavailable at low soil temperatures (below 8°C), is important for root growth. With the soils having little to no available P in early spring, fresh applications become even more important. Solid P applications are somewhat inefficient therefore foliar P should be considered as an early option.

A foliar application of phosphate gives an ‘energy boost’ to the crop, stimulating the growth of roots and consequently shoots. Not only does this give an immediate benefit by way of recovery and repair, it builds resilience, enabling the crop to overcome further potential stress points. YaraVita Magphos K is an ideal foliar product for this timing, kick-starting the cereal growth at this early phase.

If you do choose to apply foliar P then do so as soon as you can travel but ensure that you are ready to come back quickly with an application of, ideally, NPKS to ensure the crop doesn’t lose momentum as we don’t want to spark growth off only to let the crop run out of steam once it gets going.

Read more about foliar phosphate

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