Playing a key role in a wide range of processes within the plant, boron (B) is a micronutrient that is essential to crop health.
It is important to the cellular structure of the plant, contributing to cell wall formation and stability. It is a factor in cell division and elongation, protein synthesis, metabolism and transport of sugars and starches, hormone formation, and nodule development in legumes. Given its role as an integral component of the cell wall, boron is involved in the wound healing process, repairing cell walls damaged by hail or by chewing insects.
Boron is also critical to the growth of pollen tubes, germination of pollen grains and fertilization, and helps to ensure good grain fill.
Worldwide, boron deficiency is the most widespread micronutrient deficiency. Alfalfa, pod crops and vegetables are the most sensitive to boron deficiency; however, it is needed by all crops, and deficiencies can cause losses in both yield and quality.
A boron deficiency can present a variety of symptoms including thick, curled, brittle leaves; death of growth points and the formation of multiple side shoots; reduced pollen tube growth and flowering; and reduced seed set.
In canola, which has higher boron requirements than cereal crops, a deficiency can cause aborted flowers and pod blanks or missing seeds in the pod – a phenomenon often referred to as pod abortion or heat-blast.
High pH soils; sandy, leached soils; soils with low organic matter; over-limed soils; and soils with high levels of nitrogen and/or calcium can have limited boron availability. Boron moves to the plant by mass flow and weather conditions that affect water flow, such as hot and dry or high humidity, restrict boron uptake and trigger deficiency. Cold, wet weather can also limit availability, especially after a long, dry spell.
To proactively address deficiencies, you can start by providing seedlings with a full package of micronutrients including boron at burn off, or with the starter fertilizer. Perfuze B coats every granule of the dry NPKS blend with enough boron to fulfill a seedling’s needs.
As a plant’s need for boron changes during key stages of development, it is often necessary to supplement soil-supplied boron during the growing season. Liquid foliar fertilizers containing boron are the most effective way to continuously supply boron to the crop when soil moisture is low or when the conditions are either hot and dry or too humid. This helps prevent deficiency and promotes flowering and translocation of sugars.
Super B (10% B) and KB78 (8% B) are liquid foliar fertilizers that provide boric acid, the most available form of boron, and are formulated for maximum efficacy, even during hot, dry conditions. Applied during the flowering stage, they can help to promote pollen formation and prevent heat blast. Super B can also be combined with Nutri-Boost or C3 to encourage healing and recovery of hail- or insect-damaged crops.
Talk to your retailer or OMEX sales representative about how boron can preserve and protect your crop, even under stressful conditions.
In our next post: Molybdenum – a trace element essential for growth and development.