Copper is crucial throughout the season for several metabolic processes like photosynthesis and respiration.
What Roles Does Copper Play in Crop Production?
As an essential micronutrient, we know that copper plays a critical role in plant development. Copper is a key component of chlorophyll, playing a vital role in photosynthesis and in vitamin A production. A deficiency of vitamin A can interfere with protein synthesis. Copper also aids in the formation of lignin found in cell walls, which help keep the plant upright and is important to seed set, stress resistance and pollen production.
Copper is generally used in small amounts by a crop. For example, in a 150-bushel corn crop, the nutrient uptake for copper was only .10 lbs/ac. This is important since there is a thin line between copper fertility and copper toxicity.
Risk Factors That Can Lead to Copper Deficiency
There are several factors that can impact copper uptake which can result in a deficiency.
- Soil Texture: Coarse, sandy soils are more prone to copper deficiencies – think acidic, highly-leached, sandy soils.
- Organic Matter: Copper is bound to soils with high organic matter, which directly impacts the availability of copper to a plant.
- Soil pH: Soils that have a pH above 7.5 and are heavily weathered are going to experience higher deficiencies of copper. The higher presence of oxides and carbonates will impact copper availability.
Some crops will respond more to copper fertilization under deficient conditions than others. High response crops include wheat, alfalfa, barley, oats, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and fruits. Moderate response crops include corn, sweet corn, sugar beets, sorghum and soybeans.
What does Copper Deficiency Look Like?
Copper deficiency symptoms may vary widely among crops. Copper is immobile within the soil, so symptoms generally appear in young growth. These symptoms can include:
- Soft or limp stalks.
- Young shoots die back.
- New leaves may be chlorotic or a deep blue green with margins rolled up.
- Flowering or fruiting may fail to develop in annual plants, and they may die in the seedling stage.
- The bark of trees is often rough and blistered and gum may exude from fissures in the bark.
How to Help Prevent a Copper Deficiency
Get ahead of potential copper deficiency with a solution such as WOLF TRAX® DDP® micronutrients. WOLF TRAX Copper DDP is designed to have nutrients more accessible to plants when they need it most. This solution helps improve micronutrient use efficiency and promote crop performance.
To learn more about copper and how to prevent copper deficiencies, contact a Koch Agronomic Services (KAS) representative today or visit the KAS Knowledge Center for additional resources.