Many corn growing areas were impacted by prolonged weather events this season, including widespread flooding, which lead to many growers having to leave some fields fallow. It is important to be proactive to prevent Fallow Syndrome from effecting next year’s crop. Fallow Syndrome results in reduced early growth and yield and can occur in situations where a crop is planted into a field a year after it has been without plant growth. Symptoms include slow-stunted early growth, purple coloration and poorly developed roots – classic symptoms of phosphorous (P) deficiency according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Iowa State University.
Why does Fallow Syndrome occur? The decrease in active mycorrhizal fungi, a beneficial fungus naturally found in the soil, is one possible cause. When a field is left fallow, the mycorrhizal fungi do not have host plants available which decreases their survival. This can lead to Fallow Syndrome because these beneficial fungi are not available in the soil to support plant roots in the acquisition of nutrients, especially phosphorous, and water.
Mycorrhizae form associations with plant roots expanding the root absorption area beyond the root zone due to the hyphal network – a mass of extremely fine filaments that travel through the soil to seek out nutrients and water. Hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi extend beyond roots, accessing nutrients and water outside the roots’ depletion zone and produce enzymes which convert unavailable forms of nutrients to those that can be taken up and used by the plant
Mycorrhizae also helps to refurbish soil structure through the production of glomalin. Glomalin glues soil and organic particles into tightly bound aggregates which support root development and plant growth by improving soil stability and aeration, water infiltration and water holding capacity of the soil.
To support productivity in fields that have been left fallow, consider a good starter fertilizer and at the same time re-stock beneficial mycorrhizae fungi species instead of waiting for populations to rebound over time. Mycorrhizal fungi can quickly colonize plant roots to aid in nutrient uptake for the entire season. The easy-to-use liquid formulation of MycoApply® EndoPrime® SC contains four select species of mycorrhizal fungi designed to get your corn crop off to a strong start and stand up to stress throughout the season. Applied in-furrow, MycoApply EndoPrime SC allows for easy application via water or starter fertilizer to fit seamlessly into your existing cropping practices.