Know Your Nutrients: Copper

Identifying and addressing a copper deficiency can make a big difference when it comes time to harvest. 

Copper (Cu) is a micronutrient which is only needed in trace amounts, but is involved in several key plant actions, including photosynthesis, nitrogen utilization, protein production and water regulation. Adequate copper is needed for lignin formation, affecting the overall strength of the plant, and is critical for proper seed formation.

Cereals, oilseeds, flax, corn and vegetable crops can be sensitive to copper deficiency. Sensitivity in cereals varies, with wheat being the most sensitive, followed by barley, oats, triticale and rye.

Symptoms of copper deficiency include chlorosis of the leaf margins and brown spots over the surface of the leaf (in broadleaf crops), pig tailing or whip tailing of older leaves (in cereals), stem dieback, lodging, delayed maturity, stunted growth, aborted heads, reduced or deformed seed, and poor yields. Inadequate copper can cause increased susceptibility to diseases including root-rot and ergot.

Cold, wet conditions in the spring can cause a delayed availability of copper. Also, high pH soils, soils with excess nitrogen or phosphorus, heavily limed soils, soils with added molybdenum, sandy soils, leached acid soils, muck soils high in organic matter, alkaline soils and soils with a high concentration of manganese can all be prone to a copper deficiency.

The Solution

If soil tests indicate a copper deficiency, or conditions exist that limit the uptake of copper, consider using a primer, starter or foliar fertilizer. 

Primer Cu is formulated with high concentrations of phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper. Applied to cereals prior to seeding, Primer Cu places essential micronutrients as close to the seed as possible, contributing to stronger roots and stems while preventing yield-limiting symptoms of deficiency.

Perfuze Cu is a highly concentrated liquid starter, designed to coat dry fertilizer blends, and is a cost-effective way to provide seedlings with in-soil micronutrients for a strong start and, ultimately, a strong finish. 

Copper is also available in a single element formula. Omex Cu can be used as a starter or, when soil application is not possible, as a foliar. In-crop, Omex Cu can be mixed with pesticides or other fertilizers and applied directly to the foliage to correct copper deficiency. 

OMEX’s Foliar Advance Cu is a liquid foliar fertilizer, used to improve crop health and seed quality. It is a good source of readily available copper, formulated for quick absorption. Expect improved photosynthesis, reduced lodging, a high level of pollen fertility and a lowered chance of ergot. 

Talk to your retailer or OMEX sales representative about when and how to use copper as part of a balanced plant nutrition program to improve the health and yield of your crop.

 

In our next post: Boron – an important micronutrient that provides stability to cells.