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Agronomic Services — News Release

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2001

Contact: Bob Edwards
Regional agronomist, Agronomic Division
(252) 523-2949

Bogue grower doubles sweet corn yield by adding sulfur

RALEIGH — Bill Guthrie has been farming for 61 years. People flock to Guthrie Produce in Bogue to buy his sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, string beans, squash, cantaloupes and watermelons. He could probably rely on his lifetime of farming experience to pull him through, but instead he still seeks advice from experts and follows it to the letter. Recently, his results have been phenomenal.

Last year Guthrie was concerned about his sweet corn crop. The plants were yellow and not as tall as they should be. When Bob Edwards, a regional agronomist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, dropped by to see him, Guthrie showed him the problem.

Edwards looked over the 50-acre tract of vegetables, including the corn that concerned Guthrie. Edwards immediately suspected a sulfur deficiency, but Guthrie assured him that the fertilizer he was using contained sulfur. They took a soil sample and a plant tissue sample and had them tested.

"It seemed that sulfur was probably the cause," said Edwards, "but we sampled to make sure and to check for other possible problems."

Tests confirmed Edwards' suspicions. Even though Guthrie was applying sulfur, the plants needed more. Unseasonably heavy rains had washed it out of the root zone.

Edwards recommended applying 150 to 175 pounds per acre of ammonium sulfate. "In three days time, the corn was changing color," said Guthrie. "Since then I've been delighted with the results. I'd say the change in fertilizer has doubled my yields."

This year Guthrie was so confident about his corn that he doubled his acreage. "I would not have planted that much corn before I saw the impact that sulfur could have. I used to be reluctant to plant much sweet corn because it just didn't do well. I depended on other growers for a lot of the corn I sold at the produce stand. This year I'm selling my own corn to people as far away as Wilkesboro."

Sulfur deficiency is a common problem in deep sandy soils like those in the Bogue area. It also affects other crops besides corn. Deficiency symptoms are not always as obvious as with Guthrie's corn. The best way to identify any plant nutrient problem is to use a combination of soil testing and plant tissue testing.

Edwards can help other growers protect their investments and improve production. He is available to visit or consult with any grower in Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir and Pitt counties who needs help taking agronomic samples, adjusting fertilizer programs, pinpointing nutrient deficiencies or toxicities, identifying nematode problems, or interpreting agronomic reports.


Last Update June 1, 2009


NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division, Colleen M. Hudak-Wise, Ph.D., Director
Mailing Address: 1040 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1040
Physical Address: 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh NC 27607-6465
Phone: (919) 733-2655; FAX: (919) 733-2837

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