Tissue Test for Better Yields

Phil Long is in the field this week looking at the rapid growth phase of corn. He also shares what to scout for this time of year and how to send in a proper tissue test. Check out the video or read the article below to learn more.

With current input and commodity prices, we must get the most from each crop. To help your crop reach its potential, start with fertility. Regular soil tests are great, but the next step is in-season tissue testing.

Tissue testing supplements your soil test. You shouldn’t take a tissue test without a current soil test in hand. Once you take the tissue test, compare it to your soil test. See where the two tests match. Then make plans to address those needs either this season or next season.

Tissue testing every two weeks shows how your crop is developing throughout the season. If you only can tissue test once or twice, I recommend pulling a sample early (V4 for corn or soybeans) and before grain fill (R1 for corn and R3 for soybeans). This will give you a good understanding of what needs are not being met during crucial development stages.

Here are some tips on how to use tissue testing to your advantage this season:

  1. Sample whole plant (above ground) when shorter than eight inches. Once a plant gets to reproduction, use the leaf below and opposite the ear leaf for corn. For soybeans, use the most recently matured leaf (usually the 2nd or 3rd leaf from top of the plant). Take at least 15 leaves/plants per sample.
  2. Take multiple samples to compare locations in the field and to look for consistencies. If you are looking at a trouble spot, be sure to also take a sample from a good spot in the field. Send samples in a breathable bag (not a plastic Ziploc bag), or your results may not be good.
  3. Compare back to your soil test. Keep environmental conditions in mind at the time of sampling. Most labs will categorize the nutrient levels based on what growth stage the plant was in when sampled. Tissue testing is like taking your temperature; the tissue test can reveal consistencies in a field that must be addressed to break that next yield barrier.

Check out other corn videos and articles on The Field Position.