Available to U.S. growers for the first time, Crop Health Laboratories is providing diagnostics that reveal crop nutrition deficiencies 4-to-6 weeks sooner than conventional dry matter tests. This powerful predictive technology allows growers to adjust fertilization strategies quickly and precisely well before damage becomes visible.
The revolutionary plant sap analysis – developed by Netherlands-based NovaCropControl and distributed exclusively in the U.S. by Crop Health Laboratories – reveals important information about the health status of over 100 different crops by analyzing the actual uptake of nutrients by the plant. An optimal and balanced uptake of nutrients has a positive effect on the plant’s natural disease resistance, yield, and the quality, firmness and shelf life of fruits.
“Sap analysis carries the same diagnostic value of a blood sample,” explained Program Director Michelle Gregg. “The test provides a screenshot of nutrient content in the sap prior to metabolism by plant cells. Producers can anticipate crop needs and counter imbalance with fertility inputs before the plant expresses symptoms of deficiency.”
Crop Health Laboratories’ plant sap analysis allows growers to save on fertility inputs by generating a precise diet based on the plant’s actual demand. By avoiding the typical let’s-hope-for-the-best approach, growers using plant sap analysis realize savings on fertilizers as well as a fungicides and pesticides.
“Sap analysis has become the key component of my nutrient management program,” said Mike Omeg of Omeg Orchards in Washington. “Using this tool I am able to adjust the contents of nutrient applications in real-time, correcting deficiencies or excesses before they become visible in the crop or tissue analyses, thereby maintaining an optimal mineral balance throughout the growing season. It maximizes my fruit quality and nutrient density.”
The plant sap analysis tracks nutrient flow throughout the growing season and compares the levels to established target values at each stage of development. Plant sap analysis should be performed weekly or biweekly, depending on the crop’s growing period. Crop Health Laboratories’ plant sap analysis is priced at $45-$75 per set, depending on volume.
Crop Health Laboratories is currently working with 175 farms in the U.S. and enjoys a 100 percent retention rate. For the time being, sap samples are sent to NovaCropControl in the Netherlands for analysis. Crop Health Laboratories plans to open its own testing facilities stateside in early 2016.