29 September 1995

HGCA report on copper deficiency

COPPER deficiency is a risk on 5% of cereal land in England and Wales and 30% in Scotland, with yield losses of up to one fifth quite possible, a new Home-Grown Cereals Authority report suggests.

The work by Alex Sinclair of SAC Aberdeen and Paul Withers of ADAS Bridgets shows deficiency is most likely in cereals once EDTA extractable copper levels dip below 1mg/kg. They suggest a threshold of 1.6mg/kg below which cereals may be affected.

Symptoms are often not seen until ear emergence, by which time a yield-boosting soil application of copper is too late.

Foliar applications are more suitable for increasing the copper content of grain, they note. But additional work by IACR Rothamsted and the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association show little link between extra grain copper and baking quality.