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Foliar Feeding Vegetable Crops- Is there a Time and Place for it?

Chuck Bornt, Team Leader, Extension Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

May 30, 2018

 Chuck Bornt, ENYCHP & Steve Reiners, Cornell University                                                                                                          

Those of you that have worked with me long enough know that I have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to certain things and foliar feeding vegetable crops is one of those topics on which I have some opinions. The bottom line is, I can't really find good research information on what to use or what rates etc., but over the years I have learned a couple of things that I would like to share with you.                                                                                                                      

 Let's define the nutrients I'm talking about. Micronutrients are needed by plants in low amounts, from just a few ounces per acre for molybdenum to a few pounds per acre for zinc, manganese, boron, copper and iron.  Compare that to macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that are needed in amounts ranging from 40 to 150 pounds per acre. Also considered macronutrients are sulfur, calcium and magnesium which may be needed in the 20 to 40 pound range. First, I believe foliar feeding micros is only part of the solution and is meant as a temporary corrective measure! Foliar forms of these micros may be more readily available to plants compared to soil applied forms. However, foliar feeding should be considered only part of the nutrient management plan.  Continue to soil sample and address micronutrient deficiencies through liming/pH corrections when possible. In many cases, these materials can be added to many of the dry or liquid starter fertilizers we use.                                                                  

Determining if you have a micronutrient deficiency is sometimes very difficult as often the symptoms look the same as some environmental issues. The best way to tell if you have a micronutrient issue is to collect a foliar sample and send it to a lab that can run an analysis for you.  I have had good luck with Waters Agricultural Labs in Kentucky: www.watersag.com (also a location in Georgia). Their turnaround time is usually quick and they supply you with recommendations including foliar feeding recommendations. You can also submit a soil sample from the same field to determine if your soil levels are also low.  When looking to take a foliar sample, the recommendation for most crops is the youngest fully expanded leaf.  Collect at least 15—20 leaves from across the planting (composite sample like you do with soil sampling) and put them in a paper bag (do not use plastic bags) and get them in the mail as soon as possible.  I would recommend that you not pull samples on a Thursday or Friday since they could sit in the post office for a day or two before being delivered.  You can find more information at their website on nutrients they analyze for, con       tact information and fees.

I also thought this information from the Michigan State Bulletin was important when treating a micronutrient deficiency:  "For a preventive spray program, spray the crop about four weeks after emergence or transplanting. Because many micronutrients are not readily translocated within the plant, a second spray will be needed two weeks later to cover the new foliage. When a known nutrient deficiency develops, spray the crop with the appropriate nutrient at the recommended rate every 10 days until the deficiency is corrected. Complete coverage of the foliage is important, especially for iron. Adding a wetting agent to the spray solution will improve the coverage and may increase absorption, especially in crops with waxy surfaces, such as cauliflower and onions.

Micronutrients may be mixed with most fungicides and insecticides. However, some combinations are incompatible and may injure crops. When in doubt, spray only a limited acreage until compatibility is established. Any injury will usually appear within 48 hours." I should also add that a minimum of 30 gallons of water per acre should be used.

I am not a believer in delivering the necessary macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium by foliar means—but with that said, I do think that there are times when plants may respond to these nutrients being applied as a foliar.  Most vegetables require these three nutrients in large quantities (40—150 lbs per acre). Soil biological processes make these nutrients available, and plants have been evolved to take these nutrients up most efficiently through their roots, not their leaves and stems. Here comes the "however" - over the last couple of years I have seen where adding a couple of pounds of these nutrients, especially nitrogen during stressful times does seem to help the plant "weather" the stress and help it recover quicker when the environment turns more favorable. In particular, I have seen where a foliar feeding nitrogen on sweet corn damaged by hail did help the plant recover quicker.  However, the key is making sure you have some foliage left there for the nutrients to be taken in.  Calcium and magnesium sprays can also help feed plants when soil application is not practical.

Table 1. Nutrient sufficiency ranges for vegetables, potatoes and corn*

 

ELEMENT

VEGETABLES

Most recently mature leaf

POTATOES

Petioles most recently mature leaf sampled

at midseason

CORN

Ear leaf sample at initial silk

Percent (%)

NITROGEN

2.5 - 4

2.5-4

2.76-3.5

PHOSPHORUS

0.25 - 0.8

0.18-0.22

0.25-0.5

POTASSIUM

2 - 9

6-9

1.7-2.5

CALCIUM

0.35 -2

.36-.5

0.2-1

MAGNESIUM

0.25 - 1

0.17-0.22

0.15-0.6

SULFUR

0.16 - 0.5

0.21-0.5

0.15-0.5

Parts per million (ppm)

MANGANESE

30 - 200

30-200

20-150

IRON

50 - 250

30-300

20-250

BORON

30 - 60

15+40

4-25

COPPER

8 - 20

7-30

6-20

ZINC

30 - 100

30-100

20-70

MOLYDENUM

0.5 - 5

0.5-4

0.1-2

*Vitosh, M.L., D.D. Warncke, and R.E Lucas. 1994. Secondary and Micronutrients for Vegetables and Field Crops. https ://ww w. ms u. ed u/ ~war ncke// E 0486. pd f


See Table 3 for rate recommendations. This foliar application followed by either a sidedress application or injection via a drip system for crops on plastic would be a way to promote nutrient uptake and keep that plant moving along. I think and hope that most crop advisors and salesman would think along these same lines and tell you that you need to make sure you're doing your best to provide the crop with the nutrient needs through amending your soils and not through relying on foliar applications. With that said, if you have questions about foliar nutrients, sampling or other fertilizer questions

Table 2. Relative response of selected crops to micronutrient fertilizers*

Crop

Mn

B

Cu

Zn

Mo

Fe

Asparagus

L

L

L

L

L

M

Broccoli

M

H

M

--

H

H

Cabbage

M

M

M

L

M

M

Carrot

M

M

M

L

L

--

Cauliflower

M

H

M

--

H

H

Celery

M

H

M

--

L

--

Cucumber

H

L

M

--

--

--

Lettuce

H

M

H

M

H

--

Onion

H

L

H

H

H

--

Parsnip

M

M

M

--

L

--

Pea

H

L

L

L

M

--

Pepper

M

L

L

--

M

--

Potato

H

L

L

M

L

--

Radish

H

M

M

M

M

--

Snap beans

H

L

L

H

M

H

Spinach

H

M

H

H

H

H

Sweet corn

H

M

M

H

L

M

Table beet

H

H

H

M

H

H

Tomato

M

M

H

M

M

H

Turnip

M

H

M

--

M

--

 

Highly (H) responsive crops will often respond to micronutrient fertilizer additions if the micronutrient concentration in the soil is low. Medium (M) responsive crops are less likely to respond and the low (L) responsive crops do not usually respond.

 

Table 3. Suggested rates and sources of secondary and micro- nutrients for foliar application*

 

Element

Pounds of element/ acre

 

Suggested Source

Calcium (Ca)

1-2

Calcium chloride or calcium nitrate

Magnesium (Mg)

1-2

Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)

Manganese (Mn)

1-2

Manganese sulfate or finely ground manganese oxide

Copper (Cu)

0.5-1

Copper sulfate or copper oxide

Zinc (Zn)

0.3-0.7

Zinc sulfate

Boron (B)

0.1-0.3

Soluble borate

Molybdenum (Mo)

0.06

Sodium molybdate

Iron (Fe)1

1-2

Ferrous sulfate

1Iron is not usually deficient in New York vegetable soils

*Vitosh, M.L., D.D. Warncke, and R.E Lucas. 1994. Secondary and Micronutrients for Vegeta- bles and Field Crops. https://www.msu.edu/~warncke//E0486.pdf

 



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Broccoli

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Brussels Sprouts

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Cabbage

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Carrots

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Cauliflower

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Cherries

Cherries

Cucumbers

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Dry Beans

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Eggplant

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Ethnic Vegetables

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Garlic

Garlic

Grapes

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Horseradish

Horseradish

Kohlrabi

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Leeks

Leeks

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Lettuce / Leafy Greens

Melons

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Nectarines

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Onions

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Parsnips

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Peaches

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Pears

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Peas

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Peppers

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Plums

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Potatoes

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Pumpkins / Gourds

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Radishes

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Raspberries / Blackberries

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Rhubarb

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Rutabaga

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Snap Beans

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Squash - Summer

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Squash- Winter

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Upcoming Events

Berry Production Workshop: Using Insect Exclusion Netting to Manage SWD

September 15, 2021
October 5, 2021

Due to predictions of extreme weather tomorrow evening, Wednesday, September 15th, the Exclusion Netting Workshop at the Berry Patch, Stephentown, NY has been postponed until Tuesday, October 5th, 4-6pm.  If you already registered for the Berry Patch session, there is no need to re-register.

The western NY site at Albers Acres in Kennedy, NY will still hold the workshop tomorrow night, Sept 15.

If you have any questions about eastern NY meeting - please call Laura McDermott, 518-791-5038, or email lgm4@cornell.edu.

2021 season review of SWD management techniques

Join us at either The Berry Patch in Stephentown (Oct 5) or Abers Acres in Kennedy (Sept 15) for a two-hour review of Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) management techniques.  We'll cover the basics of SWD monitoring of adult and larvae populations and also discuss implementing a pesticide program.

The program will focus on what has been learned about designing an exclusion netting support system that provides long term control of SWD and maximum utility for berry farmers.

Exclusion netting is being used on field blueberries where it controls SWD while also excluding birds and moderating impacts of hail and heavy rain.  Raspberries and strawberries also benefit from exclusion netting on  the sides of high tunnels.   

1.5 DEC credits available in categories 1A, 10, and 22

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Remote Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course

October 20 - October 21, 2021

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. At least one person per farm producing more than $25,000 worth of fruits and vegetables must attend this course once. Participants will receive a certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials.

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Announcements

2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide

Prepare your sprayer and make sure you have the insecticides of choice on hand. Click on the following link for the revised 2021 SWD Insecticide Quick Guide: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_981.pdf

Current recommendations are to use the most effective material you can early in the spray program - even though the population seems small. The strategy is to keep the population small for as long as possible as it's very hard to gain control after the numbers have ballooned.  

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance for Producers Facing Inclement Weather

Severe weather events create significant challenges and often result in catastrophic loss for agricultural producers. Despite every attempt to mitigate risk, your operation may suffer losses. USDA offers several programs to help with recovery.

Risk Management
For producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), we want to remind you to report crop damage to your crop insurance agent or the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.

If you have crop insurance, contact your agency within 72 hours of discovering damage and be sure to follow up in writing within 15 days. If you have NAP coverage, file a Notice of Loss (also called Form CCC-576) within 15 days of loss becoming apparent, except for hand-harvested crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

Disaster Assistance
USDA also offers disaster assistance programs, which is especially important to livestock, fruit and vegetable, specialty and perennial crop producers who have fewer risk management options.
First, the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) reimburses producers for a portion of the value of livestock, poultry and other animals that died as a result of a qualifying natural disaster event or for loss of grazing acres, feed and forage. And, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides assistance to producers of grazed forage crop acres that have suffered crop loss due to a qualifying drought. Livestock producers suffering the impacts of drought can also request Emergency Haying and Grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.

For LIP and ELAP, you will need to file a Notice of Loss for livestock and grazing or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days. For TAP, you will need to file a program application within 90 days.

Documentation
It's critical to keep accurate records to document all losses following this devastating cold weather event. Livestock producers are advised to document beginning livestock numbers by taking time and date-stamped video or pictures prior to after the loss.

Other common documentation options include:
- Purchase records
- Production records
- Vaccination records
- Bank or other loan documents
- Third-party certification

Additional Resources
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help you determine program or loan options.

While we never want to have to implement disaster programs, we are here to help. To file a Notice of Loss or to ask questions about available programs, contact the Rensselaer County USDA Service Center @ 518 271 1889 ext. 2. The office is open for business, however due to pandemic restrictions all in-person visits require an appointment.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

FSMA Updates with Gretchen Wall

August 10, 2021
In this episode, Elisabeth Hodgdon discusses news and updates related to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule with food safety specialist Gretchen Wall. They discuss inspection schedules for the 2021 season, On Farm Readiness Reviews, water testing, new resources available for growers, and more.

Resources:
Records Required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, by K. Woods, D. Stoeckel, B. Fick, G. Wall, and E.A. Bihn. This fact sheet includes an explanation of required records as well as printable record templates:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/sites/producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/files/shared/documents/Records-Required-by-the-FSMA-PSR.pdf

Upcoming Remote, Online, and In-Person Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Courses:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/training/grower-training-courses/upcoming-grower-trainings/

Interactive Google map of water testing labs, created by the Northeast Center to Advance Food Safety:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?amp%3Busp=sharing&mid=1C8KHM6jJszj9auYQttUbVtPKtb4eEBSJ&ll=41.22288057139939%2C-78.58548244999999&z=5\

Interested in joining the Produce Safety Alliance listserv? Sign up here to receive FSMA updates, notifications of educational opportunities and new resources, and more:
https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/

Contact Information:
To schedule an On Farm Readiness Review or discuss your farm’s FSMA PSR coverage status, contact Steve Schirmer (315-487–0852 or steve.schirmer@agriculture.ny.gov), or Aaron Finley (518-474-5235 or aaron.finley@agriculture.ny.gov).

Episode speakers:
Elisabeth Hodgdon, ENYCHP vegetable specialist: 518-650-5323 or eh528@cornell.edu
Gretchen Wall, Produce Safety Alliance coordinator and Northeast Regional Extension Associate: 607-882-3087 or glw53@cornell.edu

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