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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2007


Contact: Rick Morris, regional agronomist
NCDA&CS Agronomic Division
(910) 866-5485

Wheat growers, don't overlook sulfur needs

BLADENBORO - The fall and winter were less than ideal for wheat crops in southeastern North Carolina. Most fields were planted late because of wet weather or in response to favorable wheat prices forecast for 2007. Because of this situation, growers who are looking for optimum yields and the best return on their investment should monitor soil fertility and plant nutritional status, particularly to see if a sulfur deficiency exists.

Soil tests conducted by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services measure important plant nutrients, including sulfur, and provide recommendations for fertilization, if necessary. Growers should check their recent soil reports and make sure they have not overlooked any sulfur problems. However, if soil reports are several months old and rain has been frequent in the interim, tissue testing is the quickest and most reliable way to check for low sulfur levels. Last year, 26 percent of all wheat plants tested needed additional sulfur.

Sulfur affects plant metabolism, enzyme activities and protein production. Plants deficient in sulfur will be small, spindly and light green or yellow in color. They will not be able to use available nitrogen efficiently.

"Growers looking for a high return on their investment need to pay attention to sulfur fertilization," said Rick Morris, a regional agronomist with the NCDA&CS. "Applying sulfur based on soil test or plant-tissue recommendations can often increase yields by 5 bushels per acre. Generally, a high-yielding wheat crop will take up about a quarter-pound of sulfur for each bushel of wheat produced."

If you suspect a sulfur deficiency, collect plant tissue samples and send them to the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division. If a sulfur deficiency is confirmed or there is a history of sulfur deficiency, apply 20 to 25 pounds of sulfur per acre along with any other fertilizer recommended. A number of sulfur sources are available through local fertilizer dealers.

For information on how to collect and submit soil or plant tissue samples, call the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division at (919) 733-2655 for the name and number of the area regional agronomist. Growers in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland and Robeson counties should call Rick Morris at (910) 866-5485.

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NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047