INSIDERSPlant Growth RegulatorsIn Life and In Potato Hormones, Balance Is Everything

In Life and In Potato Hormones, Balance Is Everything

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University of Manitoba plant scientist, Mark Belmonte, has spent his whole career studying the mechanics of plant growth and the hormones that control it. Over the past handful of years, Stoller has contracted Belmonte to conduct independent and unbiased research trials to assess the impact of Stoller’s Fortified Stimulate Yield Enhancer growth hormone supplement on various crops. Here’s what he told me about his findings:

Brodie Workman (BM): What can growers expect when they treat their potato plants with Stimulate?

Mark Belmonte (MB): Plants treated with additional hormones consistently produce more robust roots and an increased number of shoots — a study I did in 2019 showed treated tubers produced an average increase of one shoot/eye per tuber, or a 30 per cent improvement over untreated tubers. In addition to faster growth, producers can expect plants receive a boost of hormones to germinate and grow much more consistently, producing uniform rows and, ultimately, increasing the likelihood of higher yielding, more consistent harvest.

BM: You also found that hormone-treated plants fair better after stress, correct?

MB: Correct. If you have a hail event, cold soil or other kind of stress, the energy a plant would usually put into growth gets diverted into making sure the plant doesn’t die. Post-stress growth losses can be significant. One of the ways a grower can overcome those growth losses is by applying a balanced growth hormone product. Where straight gibberellic acid can help with germination in the spring, it alone can’t help overcome abiotic, environmental stresses. That’s where a complete hormone package will be more beneficial.

BM: When do you recommend growers use Stoller’s Fortified Stimulate Yield Enhancer?

MB: Growth hormones can be applied as a seed treatment, in furrow, as a foliar treatment, or via irrigation. For best results, you want to apply the hormones multiple times throughout the growing season to continue giving the crop boosts. You can expect results fast – within a week or two of applications – but the plant needs regular applications to maintain the growth momentum.

BM: How do you recommend growers get the most benefit from an application?

MB: Hormones can only work effectively when a crop has access to the necessary building blocks of plant life: adequate sunlight, moisture and nutrition. Applying the hormones and then not applying adequate nutrition and water would be like running a marathon without having eaten for a week. It can actually have a negative effect if you apply these products when plants are undergoing drought stress or other kinds of deficiencies. Ideally, apply fertilizer and Stimulate simultaneously. Anytime you can apply nutrition alongside the hormone product, you’re going to see a bigger return. While Stimulate is compatible with most liquid fertilizers and industry pesticides, I still recommend speaking with a Stoller Representative to confirm tank mix compatibility.

BM: Finally, based on your trials, who would you recommend should consider adding supplemental hormones to their potato crops?

MB: Everyone. I can confidently say adding supplemental hormones could benefit 100 per cent of growers.

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