Foliar Nutrition as a Maximizing Yield Strategy
Applying foliar nutrients gives you the ability to apply nutrients the plant needs as it is
developing. Plants have increased demands for certain nutrients during growth stages. Applying
the foliar nutrients at the ideal time and in the appropriate form, improves plant health and
development to increase overall crop yields.
Foliar nutrition should be an important part of your overall crop fertilization strategy to
maximize crop yields. Be proactive with foliar nutrition rather than just using it to fix a problem.
If you wait until you see a nutrient deficiency, a large amount of potential crop yield will have
already been lost.
Best Timing for Foliar Nutrition
Foliar nutrition is different, but equally important to applying nutrients to the soil. Applying foliar
nutrients gives you the ability to apply nutrients in a form that a plant can very easily take up
and utilize. Usually these nutrients are also needed in much smaller amounts, so it allows you to
apply them on more of a prescriptive basis and at a time when the plants especially need these
nutrients for early growth or reproduction. Foliar nutrient applications can also be timed for
when the plants have rapid demands for specific nutrients either due to soil or weather
There are some very critical times throughout the year when foliar applications are the most
beneficial. Timing will vary across crops and geographies, but a key time to focus on foliar
nutrition is around the plant’s reproductive time, closer to pollination and seed set. With
soybeans, you want to target the flowering and early pod set. By helping the soybean plants
retain more pods and maximize pod set, growers could see a nice increase in soybean yields
come harvest time.
With corn, zinc is a micronutrient that is important during early growth and the grain filling
stage. There is an increased demand for the micronutrient boron at pollination. By making sure
that the plant has sufficient boron, is a great way to help with corn pollen formation and to
encourage pollen tube growth. By applying boron as a foliar application, you can help the corn
plant pollinate more kernels on each year, even with some environmental stresses during the
season. Boron is also an important nutrient for alfalfa.
Foliar nutrient applications can often be combined with herbicide, insecticide or fungicide
applications to gain efficiencies with regards to labor and not having to make additional passes
across the field. For example, you can target copper on wheat before flag leaf application as it
fits nicely with the early fungicide program that is taking place at that time. Planning in advance
is so important because it helps you time nutrient and crop protection applications together as
Foliar Nutrients Solutions Provide Multiple Options
Foliar nutrition can help improve a crop’s yield potential, even with tougher or more adverse
conditions. While we can’t control the weather, we can build a fertility program to help crops
perform better with the conditions that exist within the growing season.