Essential Nutrient

Chloride is an often-overlooked, essential nutrient for all cereal-grain crops, including corn, grain sorghum, and wheat. Ideally, 20 pounds of chloride per acre is needed to correct a chloride-deficient soil, to provide optimum growth and yield potential.

Much of the needed chloride in the Eastern U.S. Corn Belt region is replenished through the use of potassium chloride (KCl). In the Western United States, high levels of existing soil potassium indicate that Amchlor Basic™ is the best source of chloride fertilization, providing not only a source of much-needed chloride, but also an essential nitrogen source, all at the same time.


Kansas State University researchers and other agronomy experts have shown that wheat- yield increases up to 22 bushels an acre are possible when soil chloride deficiency is corrected. An average of a five to 10 bushel-per-acre yield increase is common among Great Plains wheat growers. The return for a conservative seven bushels-per-acre response to 20 pounds of chloride per acre, at 75 cents a pound for chloride, is $25 to $60 per acre above and beyond the initial cost of Amchlor Basic™.

For corn and grain sorghum, university research also has shown significant yield increase. Both crops have produced gains from six to 21 bushels per acre for chloride rates ranging from 20 to 40 pounds per acre. The return netted $7 to $37 an acre above the cost of application.

Along with greater profits and higher crop return on investment, there are several other tangible benefits to using Amchlor Basic™ on dryland or irrigated acreage. Among those key benefits are disease suppression, drought resistance, and accelerated plant development.


The suppression of root, stalk and leaf fungal diseases are aided by strategic chloride application. Research in Kansas, South Dakota, Texas, Oregon, Washington, New Jersey and Montana has demonstrated that diseases including take-all, root rot, Septoria, leaf rust, and tan spot, as well as glume blotch in small grains and stalk rot (fusarium) in corn often can be suppressed by chloride fertilization.

Chloride aids in disease suppression by helping the plant develop a stronger cell wall, which in turn limits the damage the disease pathogen could cause when in contact with the plant. For example, the health of the flag leaf determines 70 to 80 percent of the yield potential in wheat. By protecting the flag leaf, chloride helps boost photosynthesis and enhances nutrient uptake, which helps ensure a higher potential yield.

On the wheat blades on the left, the occurrence of physiological leaf spot due to chloride deficiency is clearly visible.
It is sometimes mistaken for tan spot.
Typically an application of 20 pounds of chloride per acre will address this problem.
The top wheat blade above shows leaf spot due to chloride deficiency,
with the lower blade being a healthy stem that has had optimum chloride application.


Nothing beats adequate rain and snow levels, but Montana State University research shows that yield increases from chloride can be impressive even when wheat is under adverse drought conditions, MSU control plots in 1988 produced only 14 bushels per acre, while plots treated with chloride delivered 21 bushels per acre—a 33 percent increase.

When chloride is a part of a total crop-nutrient ‘recipe,’ it plays a significant role in controlling water loss from plant leaves. Other related benefits are overall improved plant water management, enhanced uptake of other nutrients, and accelerated plant development. Chloride also aids the plant during times of drought stress through improved stomatal activity, which is the plant’s ability to cool itself and to improve water management within the plant’s cells and also with existing moisture within the soil profile.


Use of Amchlor Basic™ will guide the plant through stressful and difficult growing periods of the plant’s life cycle. For example, during a dry summer, grain sorghum will shut down its natural growth processes and may go instead into ‘survival mode.’

Research has shown that chloride-treated plants can better regulate the moisture within their own cells and also can improve the management and uptake of moisture within the entire plant. This critical ability to aid plants during environmental stress, along with improving photosynthesis, validates university studies showing that chloride helps enhance plant growth, often helping achieve full maturity five to seven days earlier than non chloride-treated plants.


By correcting soil chloride to the proper levels, wheat, corn, and grain sorghum yields can be enhanced by several other factors. Additional benefits of Amchlor Basic™ use are the plant’s ability to increase photosynthesis and enzyme activation, and to improve transportation of other needed nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium. One final, little-known advantage of Amchlor Basic™ use is the improvement of kernel weight among all cereal grain crops.

Pound for pound, strategic, annual Amchlor Basic™ application typically offers higher yields, test weights, greater return on investment, and overall plant-health improvement. See the Test Results & Research page on this website for accurate data over the past three years, or click on the “High Harvest Yields” news story to see wheat-harvest yields and data for Summer 2008.


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