Know Your Nutrients: Zinc

Although zinc (Zn) is required in much smaller amounts than some of the other micronutrients, it can make a big difference in both crop yield, health and quality. Pay attention to zinc – high yields cannot be achieved without it!

Zinc is a key driver of germination and root development and is required for growth hormone production and homeostasis, as well as synthesis of nucleic acids and enzyme activity. It aids in the formation of chlorophyll, affects the uptake and use of water, and influences the rate of seed and stalk maturation. 

Cereals, oilseeds, fruit and vegetables are highly prone to zinc deficiency, which can significantly limit yield potential. It’s also important to note that zinc deficient crops are likely to suffer from damages early in the season due to frost and cold conditions. 

A plant will often show signs of a zinc deficiency in its leaves. Watch for smaller, misshapen leaves; chlorosis developing into necrosis and premature leaf fall; and bronze spotting on older leaves, leading to a mottled appearance in legumes. Zinc deficient plants will display stunted growth as well as a reduction in development and size of seeds and fruit.

In terms of zinc content, prairie soils are half of what they are expected to be. This can lead to harvesting crops with low nutrient density, especially zinc. Our surveys of various crops and seed harvested in Canada revealed zinc contents at 30-50 per cent of the expected values for vigorous, nutritious food and grains.  

Cold, wet soils can make zinc less available to plants. Availability can also be limited by high pH soils; soils high in potassium and magnesium; soils high in organic matter; soils that have been leveled, exposing the sub soils; heavily limed soils; and soils that have had high nitrogen input.

The Solution

If a soil test indicates zinc deficiency, or under conditions that limit the accessibility of zinc, consider using a seed primer such as Primer Zn. Formulated with high concentrations of phosphorus, potassium and zinc, Primer Zn encourages quick emergence and establishment and helps to prevent delays in maturity. 

Post-emergence, Zintake can be applied at the 3-5 leaf stage and tank-mixed with herbicide treatments (mixed with the Stress Reliever TechnologyTM) or fungicide at early flowering to promote a robust crop. Zintake, formulated for fast absorption, can also be beneficial for late-season use on durum wheat and flax, both of which are prone to cadmium accumulation when Zinc levels in the soil are low.

Talk to your retailer or OMEX sales representative for more information on how zinc can take your yields to new heights. 

 

In our next post: Manganese – the activator!