Western United States and Canada

Difficult Weather Poses Boron Problems

Growers in this region consistently deal with challenging weather conditions. Boron deficiencies are common, especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest (PNW) and drought-affected areas of California. Because the climate and geography vary greatly, growing conditions and nutrient requirements differ throughout the region.

California’s Central Valley is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. The valley's irrigated farmland supports all types of non-tropical crops and is the largest U.S. producer of tomatoes, grapes, and almonds. Napa and Sonoma counties, once the producer of many different crops, are now primarily focused on wine production, although many farmers have planted fruit and nut trees, such as plums and pears, to diversify the local agricultural economy.

The PNW is the wettest part of the United States with scattered rain showers all year round. Temperatures are moderate, making it ideal for fruit trees. Further inland, long winters and a short growing season combined with low relative humidity can prove challenging to farmers. Precipitation can vary a great deal depending on elevation. Irrigated land in several major river valleys makes it possible for farmers to cultivate sugar beets, beans, potatoes, and hay. In the non-irrigated land at higher elevations, the principal crops are hay and small grains, such as wheat, barley, and oats, along with flax, safflower, and alfalfa. Washington and Idaho also have some of the best potato-growing conditions in the US, characterized by warm daytime temperatures and cool nights.

Featured Regional Crops

Soil sampling and potato petiole and leaf analysis are crucial to determining if your potatoes are receiving adequate boron.
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Boron deficiency commonly causes cracking and external cork symptoms on the fruit. This may occur even though the foliage shows no symptoms.
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Boron deficiency in alfalfa, in its mildest form, can easily pass unrecognized for it appears as a reduction in flowering and seed set. Good news, alfalfa responds especially well to boron fertilizers.
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Boron for Better ROI

West of the Rockies, crops can easily become boron deficient during drought periods, especially in soils with already low levels of available boron. Dry weather limits the availability of boron by restricting water flow, which transports available boron to the plant. In the PNW, growers have the opposite problem. Crops in this area are particularly susceptible to leaching, the loss of water-soluble plant nutrients from the soil due to rain and irrigation.

Regional crops with a high boron requirement include alfalfa, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, beets, and potatoes. A boron deficiency can also drastically affect fruit set and vine growth in grapes.

Growers of these crops can maximize their yields by knowing their crops boron needs, conducting regular soil and tissue tests to determine boron availability, and applying the right type of supplement at the right point in the growing cycle to optimize plant growth and production.

With aggressive profit margins and rising farming costs, growers need to invest their money where it matters most. Selecting nutrient products that meet rigorous quality and certification standards and deliver the most available boron per pound can help every farmer achieve optimal crop health and return on investment for any crop under any growing conditions.

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U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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