Working within the plant itself to increase its ability to absorb nutrients yields big results.
The challenge with crop nutrition is finding the right balance between the crop needs, the right formulation, the right timing, and always – the return on investment. The more efficiently nutritional products can be applied and absorbed by the plants, the lower the cost and the better the results.
Much of the focus has been on ways to design fertilizers to be soluble and available to the plants when they need it. But one company looked at ways to work within the plant itself to get it to take up nutrients faster and use them more efficiently. The product resulting from that research is KeyPlex 120, a highly concentrated nutritional supplement applied alongside other macro or micronutrient products. The results are noticeable in terms of yield increase and quality.
“We have seen 17% to 22% increases in yield on greenhouse peppers and tomatoes,” says Gerald O’Connor, CEO of KeyPlex. “And the fruit is firmer, so the quality when it reaches grocery stores is better. We’ve done many trials on specialty fruits vegetables, citrus and tree nuts, and we see more root mass, better brix, more fruit , better plant health, and in the case of the almonds, faster trunk caliper growth in young trees”
One Almond Grower’s Experience
KeyPlex 120 provides subtle benefits, too, which at $5.00/acre can mean a big return. Ryan Finnen, Farm Manager at Myers Seed and Trebec Farms, grows 3,000 acres of almonds and walnuts in Colusa County, CA. He trialed KP 120 at his farm for the first time in 2019, applying a postharvest application of 4 oz./acre to 600 acres of almonds last fall.
“Because of really inconsistent weather last spring, we just had terrible pollination,” Finnen says.” The three varieties didn’t bloom in sync. Gerald [O’Connor] said put the trees to bed with it in the fall, and they will go to bed together and wake up together. And that’s exactly what happened. The trees look fantastic, and when we took a plane out over the farm, the bloom was very consistent.”
Finnen says tissue samples are showing a bump in calcium uptake as well, which is always a struggle in his region.
“We have high magnesium soil, and our calcium-magnesium ration is always out of balance,” Finnen says. “We are constantly trying to put as much calcium as we can into our fertilizer plan. It’s a constant battle. With the KeyPlex 120, we are actually seeing a small increase in the tissue samples, which for growers in this area could be a major deal.”
How It Works
KeyPlex prides itself on its more than three decades of research into plants’ metabolic pathways and how to elicit the systemic acquired resistance (SAR) response, which is a well-known plant defensive mechanism against pathogens and damage from pests. KeyPlex researchers used that knowledge to supercharge the mitochondria – the source of energy within the cell that breaks down sugars produced during photosynthesis into proteins and enzymes needed by the plant – to take up and use nutrients more efficiently.
“Without going too deep into the photosynthesis and respiration processes, we are providing exactly what the plants need in the form criterial resources ,” O’Connor says. “The plant expends energy to grow, produce and to fight disease. If you can provide additional energy to the Krebs cycle in the plant the overall performance and production is better. KeyPlex 120 gives the plants those resources directly, which is much faster and more efficient for the plants.”
Big Bang for Small Bucks
KeyPlex 120 is a highly concentrated nutritional supplement applied alongside other macro or micronutrient products.
“KeyPlex 120 is an additive to your nutritional program, O’Connor says. “It enhances the efficacy of what you apply. For example, we’ve had fantastic responses when it is applied at transplant in tomatoes. You’re right on the cusp, where cold may be a problem, which can take a heavy toll on your transplants. When you are getting better uptake of early nutrients, it can make a big difference in how they survive and respond . In our trials we’ve seen an increase of 20 to 25% increase in root mass and top growth in seedling process tomatoes with a 5 fluid oz. band spray.”
Because KeyPlex 120 is highly concentrated, only a small amount per acre is needed. O’Connor says the cost is about $5.00 to $10.00 /acre depending on the crop.
O’Connor stresses that KeyPlex 120 is a supplement to traditional nutrients, not a replacement. But it makes those nutrients work better. KeyPlex 120 is easily tank mixed with most other products, and can be applied in multiple ways, including foliar, aerial spraying, and drip irrigation.