Copper in plants

Copper is a highly essential component to healthy plant growth.  A majority of soils contain some levels of copper in one form or another, however, often times the amounts of copper that are naturally occurring in the soils are not enough for the plant to be able to fully develop.  Maintaining more than sufficient levels of copper is essential for the overall health and appearance of the plant.

There are a variety of reasons for the presence of copper in the plant system.  It takes a part in the formation of a number of proteins in plants.  These proteins that need copper are most typically found as a component of the enzymes which help regulate many of the biochemical reactions that occur within a plant.  Copper helps to promote the production and creation of seeds.  One other process which intricately involves the presence of copper is in the making of chlorophyll.

The importance of these different functions and their dependence on plentiful levels of copper help to illustrate the important role which, copper plays in the overall health of plants.  However, as we said earlier, often times there is not nearly enough copper available for the plant to take up.  As a result, there are more often than not, many of the symptoms for a deficiency of copper that present themselves in the plant.  But just what do we look for in our plants too, effectively determine whether or not our plants are suffering from a copper deficiency?

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that you can look for to help you determine if it is higher copper levels that you need to apply so that the plants are able to reach their full potential.  As a whole, though, there are a couple of factors which are the leading contributors to copper deficiencies in plants and crops.  One of which is the pH level in the soil where the plants are grown.  If a soil is peaty and or highly acidic, this makes it more likely that a plant winds up deficient in its levels of copper.  Soils which are higher than 7.5, however, also experience a lesser availability of copper and are no better off.  The other major factor in limiting copper levels that is very common among soils and plants is the amount of organic matter that is found.  The more organic matter that is present, the lower levels of copper go in an inverse relationship.  The reason for this is that the organic matter actually impedes how much is available for uptake because of the reduction in soil mineral fixation.  If you have either one of these two conditions, or any combination of both, you are going to increase the probability of a copper deficiency.  But what does that look like?  How will you know if it is copper that your plant needs to grow to its full potential?

In conditions of copper deficiency, cereal plants can begin to have leaves that start dying from the tip and then twist into curls.   Though more rare than other symptoms, this is a possibility.  More commonly the symptoms present themselves as a form of chlorosis, with weak stems and poor root growth.  Shrunken heads can also appear with gaps in them because of the fact that the seeds to not form completely and correctly.  And if a pasture legume does not have enough copper levels can appear pale, as well as have an erect growth habit which often leads to cupped leaves.