In times of drought, soil can really take a pounding. Especially when it comes to nutrients. Many farmers will be looking to reduce input costs in the coming months, knowing full well that this year's lack of rain may have had some surprising and unexpected effects on soil nutrition. One thing to look for will be Zinc deficiency.
Zinc levels in soil can be depleted by any number of factors. Soil texture, erosion, cool spring soil temperatures and excessive Phosphorous levels are all known to contribute.
Signs of a Zinc deficiency are obvious in corn during the first two-three weeks of the growing season. Since the nutrient supports the plant's metabolism, affected fields exhibit stunted growth, striped bands near the leaf's midrib and irregular internodes. These symptoms can persist through harvest if left untreated, but the only way to be sure at harvest is to test the soil.
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