For years, tissue sampling has been a useful tool to diagnose crop issues in fields. But for those growers who want to push their yield or better understand their limiting factors, it can be an insightful tool to help them move the yield needle.
“The corn plants we’re looking at when we tissue sample look green, robust and healthy. They don’t appear to have any problems,” said John Brien, Eastern Agronomy Manager for AgriGold. “This helps us determine the limiting factors to yield and protect crops for the next growing season.”
Using tissue sampling as an investigative look inside the corn plant is key for those who want to break yield barriers. Once plants show physical signs of nutrient deficiencies, yield potential is lost and nutrient levels can only be maintained, not reversed.
Many times, yields can decline without showing any outward symptoms. For example, corn plants that are low in potassium appear healthy, but may lack adequate amounts of this essential nutrient.
“While potassium doesn’t correlate directly with yield, it does contribute to the size and support structure of the plant,” Brien said. “A bigger, healthier factory can support a bigger, healthier ear.”
Tissue sampling is also helpful for growers who want to see the big picture from a nutrient perspective.
“It’s a great way to identify weakness or excesses. For example, you might be applying too much or too little nitrogen at the wrong times,” Brien said. “Tissue sampling really helps maximize your fertilizer dollars.”
To promote this practice and empower more growers to adopt it, AgriGold has established its own approach to tissue sampling. When getting started, Brien encourages growers to follow these four tips.
1. Take samples on a set schedule. Brien recommends sampling at least five times throughout the growing season. Focus on the big growing points in the season, such as ear development, tasseling and grain fill. The important point is to follow a consistent system that can be repeated each year; thus, allowing growers to establish comparative data points. AgriGold bases its system on GDUs.
2. Be involved and willing to change. Brien encourages growers to do the sampling themselves or work closely with their crop consultants. By being invested in the process, growers become more informed and, ultimately prepared to make strategic adjustments for the next season.
“The point of gathering this information is to evaluate and adjust strategies. If you aren’t willing to change based on data, tissue sampling isn’t worth your investment,” Brien said.
3. Consult experts to interpret results. While tissue sampling itself is easy, making sense of the test results can be a challenge. Being able to distinguish what each data point means and pinpoint the required response, that’s where AgriGold agronomists can help, Brien says. “We have a database that helps customers interpret results. It shows how nutrients at different levels correlate to yield,” Brien said. “The testing labs don’t have that. This data is unique to AgriGold.”
4. Start collecting today. Having some data is better than no data when you’re trying to take yields to the next level. If you haven’t tissue sampled yet this year, start today. “If you’re at a point where you’re frustrated, you’ve hit a plateau and want to do something different but aren’t sure what that is, this is a great way to start,” Brien said.
To schedule a meeting with your local AgriGold key account specialists and start boldly planning for 2020, visit agrigold.com/contact-us.