Tackling environmental stress for your best pollination and yield
Once a seed is planted, environmental factors can start to reduce its full potential by up to 70 per cent.
These environmental stresses can include nutritional deficiencies, water stress, high or low temperatures, pests, weeds, and diseases.
Crops can be impacted at various stages of growth with some crops experiencing the greatest loss early due to seedling death. Some will be affected later with flower bud failure, and others will be closer to harvest with grain abortion, fruit drop, or fruit damage. This reduction in yield impacts the grower’s bottom line and causes financial losses.
Pollination is a vital part of the crop cycle. To pollinate, plants start their productive stage by creating reproductive buds, then flowers.
For flowers to be pollinated, they need to stay strong long enough for this process to occur. If the crop is too weak then flower buds can abort. If the weak bud does produce a flower, these flowers can fall prematurely, and either never pollinate or only create small fruit which can fall quickly due to poor setting. These issues all lead to reduced yields.
A strong, healthy flower will stay viable for longer, increasing chances of pollination. Strengthening flowers can decrease chances of bud abortion and weak flowers, and increase chances of pollination, therefore increasing quality and overall yield.
So how do you get healthy flowers?
Flower strength mostly depends on the health of the crop. It can be affected by a variety of factors, including the environmental stresses mentioned earlier.
One of the best ways to improve flowering and give your crop the best chance at pollination is to increase the nutritional status of your crop.
Adequate levels of calcium, boron, and zinc can improve overall nutrition and are essential for flower strength. These elements support the crops to mitigate adverse environmental factors. These nutrients can help with pollination, fruit set, retention, and uniformity however an agronomist can help to determine your specific tree crops’ needs.
Stoller has a range of pollination and stress solutions for many crop types, including horticulture and broadacre.
Stoller’s SETT Enhanced contains high levels of calcium and boron. SETT Enhanced optimises pollination and fruit retention for horticulture crops by strengthening flowers. The calcium and boron assist with pollen tube formation, fruit quality and can lead to higher yields, especially during cold night conditions.
Trials results using Sett-Enhanced on wine grapes found:
- applications two weeks prior to the beginning of flowering saw 17 per cent higher yield at harvest
- an increase in number of bunches per vine
- enhanced flowering and berry set.
Once the flower has been pollinated, it is vital for fruit and nuts to then reach optimum fruit sizing. Bio-HOLD is formulated to aid in management of abiotic stress throughout ﬂowering and early fruit sizing which would otherwise result in weak ﬂowering and poor fruit set. Applied as a foliar spray over ﬂowering and fruit sizing, Bio-HOLD can help to promote strong ﬂowering and pollination in the face of adverse conditions. Bio-HOLD will provide plant nutrition to promote strong ﬂowering, sizing and production.
Trial results using Bio-HOLD on almonds found:
- Early applications at five per cent flower and then 80 to 100per cent flower is effective at increasing nut numbers.
- Later application at 80 to 100 per cent flower and shuckfall can increase nut weight.
- Nutrients in Bio-HOLD support the crop during poor weather conditions (rainfall and low temperatures).
For broadacre crops, Stoller’s Action 10 can help to improve plant health by boosting crops during stressful periods. Action 10, used as part of a good nutritional program, provides an extra boost for building roots, thereby helping the plant overcome stress. Action 10 contains highly available calcium which builds strong cells and promotes healthy growth.
Trial results of Action 10 on legumes found:
- Applications at first flower until 20 per cent flowering saw an estimated yield increase of eight per cent per hectare.
- Reduced seed defects by 17 per cent.
- Return of investment of $6 to every $1 spent.
Article written by Stoller for Seasons magazine.
Purchase SETT Enhanced from your local Elders branch