Higher yield with less stress
Cotton - Marble Hall, South Africa
Translated from "Landbouweekblad" of 27 August 1999

YIELD PLUS, a plant nutrient solution which has been delivering outstanding results for the past two decades in America, is also doing extremely well under local conditions. Although recently introduced to South Africa, promising results have been obtained in crops such as grapes, peaches, plums, green beans, tobacco, sweet melon and a variety of vegetable crops.

The most recent achievements have been gained with cotton and ground beans where farmers increased the yield of their crops substantially by applying Yield Plus which reduced the stress on plants caused by heat or excessively wet conditions.

Yield Plus, a naturally occurring protein, increases the protein level in the plant. It removes the stress from the plant making it less susceptible to cold and heat and helps the plant grow stronger in stressful conditions.

According to Mr Julius Ueckermann of Slagboom, Marble Hall, the Yield Plus not only helped his cotton harvest survive, but also helped it improve dramatically. Almost flood conditions due to the high rainfall at the end of last year together with lower temperatures than normal, placed serious osmotic stresses on the plants.

Mr Ueckermann says that the cotton plants sprayed with Yield Plus showed positive results within two weeks and maintained this throughout the growing season. This includes better root development despite the wet conditions and therefore better uptake of nutrients.

The treated cotton started forming bolls from six weeks and did not shed them at any stage, this in contrast to what cotton farmers would expect under these conditions. At the beginning of June this year the treated cotton was still green and showing strong growth with some flowers, in contrast to many fields in the area where harvesting was already completed.

Mr Ueckermann's cotton yield has been estimated at more than 5 ton per hectare while the fertilization was based on 4 ton per hectare. The normal yield in the area for this cultivar is 2.8 to per hectare.

Mr Johan Engelbrecht of Vaalharts harvested 25 bags (625 kg) per hectare of ground beans more in the Yield Plus treated area than the untreated area. The husks and the kernels were larger, the kernels were more uniform and the size of the husks were also uniform. Root development was noticeably better. Although there was no major difference in plant height, the treated plants had notably more leaves. The treated plants were also less susceptible and more resistant to rust.

Mr Trevor Nelson, director of the company marketing the product in South Africa says that "stimulant" is probably not the correct description for Yield Plus. It is in reality a natural protein substance which is mixed with water and used for stress control in plants. It thereby helps any crop or cultivar achieve its true potential.

Yield Plus is not a fertilizer, a wonder product nor a replacement for good agricultural practice, including disease control. It is rather a management tool for optimal production together with the necessary micro- and macro-nutrients. The active ingredient in Yield Plus is a form of L-systeine (a natural amino acid in animals). The applied protein is broken down and absorbed by the plant within an hour. The active ingredient enters the plant in very low concentrations and enables the plant experiencing stress to boost its proline level so that it can handle the stress better.

It is especially effective in plants in situations of osmotic stress due to heat and/or a shortage of moisture as well as in stressful conditions caused by cold early in the season.

In the light of Mr Ueckermann and Mr Engelbrecht's yields, the product shows definite advantages. At R 375.00 per litre or, in the case of cotton, a cost of R 450/ha, only 166 kg per hectare more must be harvested to justify the product cost. In the case of ground beans where 1,3 litre per hectare must be applied, the cost is about R 490 per hectare. With a ground bean price of R 3100 per ton for choice grade, the cost will be quickly recovered.

Mr Nelson says that Mr Ueckermann's results are in accordance with cotton trials in America. By eliminating the disadvantages of stress, not only can larger harvests be expected, but also a better quality product. With vegetables and fruit this means a larger and often earlier harvest, a higher sugar content and an improved shelf life. He notes, however, that the product is pH sensitive and that the water must be buffered to a pH of 5 to 5,5. This is also the level at which the plant absorbs the product optimally. A higher pH will break the product down.

For most crops 2 to 1,5 litre of the product will be enough for the treatment of 1 hectare. A solution of 100 millilitre per 100 litre water is recommended. Because the product is organic, it can be mixed with other crop sprays, as long as these are also pH sensitive.

For improved germination and stronger seedlings, seed can also be treated with Yield Plus. Seedlings in a nursery can also be sprayed before planting out or the roots can be dipped. This reduces transplant shock, says Mr Nelson.