Requirements for boron vary substantially throughout the eastern United States depending on soil conditions and geography. Boron deficiency is more common in sandy soils of the southeast, which are low in organic matter content and more susceptible to leaching than the rich, fertile black soils of the northeast.
Certain crops, such as peanuts and cotton, require much higher soil boron levels. Peanuts are typically grown in light, sandy, well-drained soils, which are inherently low in organic matter, including boron. Since boron is also readily leached from these soils, peanuts need a constant supply of boron during all stages of growth, especially from flowering to harvest. Cotton also demands boron in high amounts for proper flowering and boll development. This need is even greater in modern high-yielding varieties that fruit quickly. Because both peanuts and cotton are typically grown in in soils that lack the ability to hold boron, it can be difficult to build up and maintain levels in the soil. Annual application of boron is recommended.
Soybeans, on the other hand, are tolerant of boron deficient soil. Even so, field studies show boron fertilization can increase soybean yields from 5 to 18 bushels per acre.
Growers in the southeast can optimize their crop production by knowing their crops’ nutrient requirements and how plants are impacted by other factors such as soil type and moisture level. If soil testing indicates a boron deficiency, farmers should follow their agronomist’s recommendations for the specific crop and area and request a refined, water soluble borate that supports plant health throughout the growing season.