Potassium Takes Second Place to Nitrogen Alone

K element symbol

 “If you short your crops on potash, you could end up with poor root structure and a weak stalk,” said Kevin Johnson, agronomy sales rep at Federated’s Osceola location. Potash [potassium-based fertilizer] is very important for your crop,” he said. Potassium (K) is second only to nitrogen (N) when it comes to nutrients for the plants.

Of course, Johnson noted, determining what levels of K are needed starts with a soil sample. “You need to know where you are sitting,” said Johnson, adding, “We don’t know what’s in the soil unless we have a sample.” 

Potassium levels affect:

  • · photosynthesis,
  • · root structure,
  • · stalk strength,
  • · water and nutrient uptake, which affects plant quality.

“Potash is what is going to grab all the other nutrients and bring them into the plant,” Johnson said, since potash is mobile in the plant. Root structure and stalks will be especially affected by potash numbers, which in turn affects yields.

Potash is also added insurance against a wet fall – “like the last couple were,” Johnson said. When crops don’t get harvested, potash can help keep the crop standing through the winter.

Potash needs vary by variety too, Johnson noted, so soil samples become even more important. “If the [P] numbers aren’t there, it’s not going to take much to get stalks falling over, and that affects harvest,” he said.

Although potash applications are easiest after fall harvest, spring applications can include potash to provide the necessary nutrients for this year’s crop. Johnson also noted that pre-buying potash for either spring or fall application can be cost-effective given the likelihood of potash price increases.

Talk to your Federated Agronomist soon to finalize crop nutrient plans, including potash, for the 2019 growing season.