In 1962, the American President, John F. Kennedy, delivered a historic yet inspiring speech with the following words:
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
Take a moment to read that again. Isn't it the epitome of our agricultural industry in South Africa? Despite all the challenges – hail, frost, power outages, droughts, floods, and more, there is still the passion to become even better, to achieve more.
Opportunities continue to arise due to practices and technology that are constantly improving, even though challenges are becoming more frequent and more intense..
Justin Trudeau, the first Prime Minister of Canada, summarized this best in his 2018 speech in Davos:
“The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”
This statement becomes evident when considering the progress in monitoring and gathering data used to make crucial decisions.
Employees, equipment, cold storage, packhouses, irrigation, and even trees can be monitored down to the finest detail, and currently, even from your smartphone.
However, we must also keep in mind the statement made by Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." This affirms that basic agricultural practices must be applied correctly to leverage the benefits of new techniques and technologies.
The management of calcium (Ca) nutrition aligns with this. The vital importance of calcium for plants, is well-known. Some key effects on the plant include:
1. Enhanced cell wall strength, cell division, cell elongation, and membrane permeability to maintain cell integrity. Stronger cell walls promote post-harvest fruit quality by reducing issues such as bitter pit, cork spot, and internal browning.
2. Strengthening plant cells with calcium also enhances the plant's resistance to abiotic and biotic stress.
3. Calcium promotes the activation of enzymes involved in metabolic processes such as photosynthesis and respiration, aiding in turgor pressure in the plant.
4. Lastly, calcium is crucial for root development.
Root development is essential for the effective uptake of calcium and other plant nutrients and therefore, the timing of calcium fertilization is of cardinal importance.
There are predominantly two crucial white root flush (fibrous roots) periods – one in spring to early summer and one post-harvest. Studies conducted under South African conditions have confirmed the effectiveness of calcium application during a white root flush (fibrous roots) period.
In the past, calcium applications were primarily focused on spring and summer root growth, often neglecting the post-harvest root growth period. It was believed that absorbed and stored calcium in the permanent structure (roots, wood, bark) did not contribute to the next year’s crop and that there were no fruits that could benefit from the application.’
Preliminary research data from a recent study, however, shows that post-harvest calcium nitrate application during the white root flush (fibrous roots) period hold some benefits for the next year's yield.
This is highly positive as it provides significant advantages to orchards struggling with calcium-related issues, as well as orchards and cultivars with strong vegetative growth that can only receive post-harvest nitrogen applications.
The easily available calcium from calcium nitrate products such as YaraLiva™ Nitrabor™ and YaraTera™ Calcinit™ or Calflo provides the advantage of immediate availability when applied during the respective root growth periods.
One can combine the wisdom of the past with the knowledge of today by including YaraVita™ Caltrac™ and YaraVita™ Stopit™ calcium spray programs, to ensure that everything is done from a calcium nutrition perspective – at the right time, at the right rate, with the right product, in the right place – to step into the rapidly changing future with success!
Article written: 25.10.2023