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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 23, 2008


Rick Morris, regional agronomist
NCDA&CS Agronomic Division

(910) 866-5485

Don’t let manganese deficiency jeopardize wheat yield

BLADENBORO — Wheat acreage and grain prices are heading toward all-time highs. North Carolina farmers are hoping that a good wheat crop will help them make up for recent setbacks caused by drought and rising production costs. Unfortunately, wheat producers may sacrifice yield and profit this season if they don’t take stock of their crop’s nutrient needs right now.

Rick Morris, regional agronomist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is concerned by the number of calls he is receiving from growers. “Over the past two weeks, growers in southeastern counties have been calling me nonstop,” Morris said. “Most of them have the same problem — yellow areas in wheat fields. So far, results of soil tests and plant tissue analyses indicate that manganese deficiency is the cause.

“Manganese is a nutrient that plants need in small amounts,” Morris said. “It is normally sufficient in soils in our area. Problems occur, however, when soil is limed so the pH rises above 6.2. When this happens, manganese is still present in the soil, but it becomes unavailable to the crop.”

Morris urges growers who suspect nutrient-related problems in their fields to contact their NCDA&CS regional agronomist or other local agricultural adviser. These professionals can give advice on collecting soil and plant tissue samples that can help diagnose the problem. If a manganese problem is confirmed, timely foliar sprays may alleviate the situation before yield loss occurs.

“I believe growers will continue to see these problems over the next few weeks because of the warm environmental conditions we have experienced this fall and winter,” Morris said. “There is probably more vegetative growth above ground than there is root system to uptake nutrients. Growers need to take care of this problem now before yield potential is seriously jeopardized.”

For information on agronomic testing services, sampling procedures and assistance from field services personnel, visit or call the Agronomic Division at (919) 733-2655. Morris provides advice on fertilization, nutrient management and nematode problems for growers in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland and Robeson counties. He can be reached by phone at (910) 866-5485 or by e-mail at


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) 733-4216; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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