(WCIA)— Many of us are too young to remember acid rain and the damage it did.  But it contained sulfuric acid from coal-fired power plants — and its absence means a shortfall of sulfur needed by crops.

No one misses acid rain, but that means farmers will have to apply sulfur as a required nutrient for corn when corn leaves have yellow streaks.  Chief Agronomist Kyle Meece of United Prairie is working on how and when farmers can best apply sulfur to corn.

“So the biggest thing we’ve been looking at is how do you get rid of those yellow streaks on the leaves,” says Meece. “How we get that plant to overcome that sickly period, and what those yellow streaks are is typically sulfur deficiency. What we’re sitting there trying to take a look at is not only looking at the placement method of sulfur, but what rate per acre we need to be using just as well.

“When I look at that corn crop and a target yield of 220 to 240 bushels I know that I am going to be anywhere from 25 to 30 pounds of actual sulfur is what I am going to need to put on.  We’re not getting as much out of the atmosphere anymore with no more coal-fired plants and things like that you have to supplement with more. And we are looking at anywhere from 20 to 25 pound acre rate and get the actual sulfur rate out there and then we hope we are going to get some from mineralization of the organic matter.”

WCIA asks Meece, are we talking about ammonium sulfate or essential?

“Let’s talk about ammonium thiosulfate.  Same concept but a liquid form, where typically our ammonium sulfate is going to be a dry flow or a dry form where we can put on with our fertilizer,” Meece says. “So this is a liquid which we can apply when we are putting our pre-plant chemical liquid on.  We can put it in as a side dress, we can put it on as a separate application. Y-dropping, a lot of different options when you are in a liquid over a dry.”