What To Do When Your Crops Experience Stress

Of all of the things that affect crop production, the environment is the single-most influential factor.  Both the positive benefits and the negative stressors created by the environment not only affect plant growth and the actual yield attained at harvest, but they also play a critical role in whether a plant will be able to reach its full genetic potential.  These next steps can be followed to assist you in making a plan on how to move forward. 

Recognize the plant stress: What is causing the stress?

Sometimes when plants look sick or appear to be under attack by insects or disease, the symptoms are actually a sign that the plant is being stressed by environmental factors.  For example, wilting can indicate insect or disease problems, but this can also be from adverse soil moisture conditions (too much or too little).  Wilting is also a normal response to extreme heat.  

Assess the damage: Is it economical to put more money into this crop?

Wait a couple days after the environmental stress event has occurred before going to assess the damage. This will give the plant time to show signs of life and recovery. It is important to make sure you make a decision based on the potential of the crop. Further action may not be needed if the stress causes enough damage, but it is very possible that there are still things you can do to help get a good yielding crop in the bin. 

Protect the plant: What is the best mode of action? 

If a plant has been physically injured by environmental stresses, it can create points of entry for diseases into the plant. It is extremely important to protect these sites, as the natural barrier on the plant has been compromised. Now that the plants have open entry wounds, there is an increased risk that disease will move in and take advantage of the struggling plants. Giving the plants the protection they need will give them the best chance at recovery. It is best to focus on applying any product within a week of the stress event. 

The use of a strobi fungicide is a very good option to gain maximum protection. Strobis have the ability to disperse and cover more surface area then just the site of contact, which means greater protection. They are also known to have some plant health benefits. BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, and Corteva all have strobi fungicides available. 

Give your crop an extra boost: What else does the plant need? 

Are you utilizing every pass you take over the field to its full potential? A tissue test can be a useful tool when it comes to deciding which nutrients will benefit your crop the most. The stage of the crop will also impact this decision. 

The nutrient application will help to alleviate some of the stress caused by the environmental event. Once you see that the crop is pushing forward and is showing signs of improvement, you may want to consider a foliar nutrient product to help kick start the plant. You will want to make sure that there is some leaf mass that this product can land on and absorb into. For example, if your lentil crop has undergone a hail event leaving only stems standing, you will want to wait until that plant starts producing leaves so that there is more surface area for the nutrients to enter the plant. 

If you need help assessing damage in your field and/or making a plan moving forward, call your local SynergyAG agronomist to come out and take a look. Happy spraying! 


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