Heat Stress: Let Calcium Help

After a cool start, the 2021 growing season is staring out hotter and drier than normal. High temperatures and transpiration rates are subjecting crops to unseasonal stress. What can be done to help crops overcome abiotic stresses?

Hot weather is hard on people – when we get too hot, we get uncomfortable, we are not as productive, and in severe cases, can suffer significantly.

Plants, just like humans, suffer when it is too hot. Heat stress impacts several key processes in plants leading to reduced crop yield and quality.

Just like humans, plants have mechanisms to deal with heat stress. Calcium plays a critical role in many of the mechanisms that plants use to deal with heat stress.

Research shows that Ca helps protect plants from heat stress. Heat stress damages plants by what is called “oxidative stress” which is due to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and the oxide ion (O2-). These ROS compounds damage plant membranes, proteins, and RNA and DNA. Calcium application to crops reduces the formation of these two key ROS species and reduces the damage from heat stress.


heat stress graph H2O and Ca.PNG

Humans sweat and the evaporation of water from skin cools us. Thus, our body temperature is 98°F when the air temperature on a hot day may be 108°F. In a similar manner, plant leaves transpire and the evaporation of water cools the leaf. Leaves that are transpiring water are usually several degrees cooler than the air around them. Calcium, along with potassium, regulates the opening and closing of the guard cells around the stomates in leaves. Plants that lack sufficient Ca lose the ability to regulate the stomates and plants can become overheated, leading to injury and death.

In addition to the direct beneficial effects of calcium on heat stress, calcium also plays a key role as part of the messenger system in plant by signaling the heat stress and triggering plant responses to heat stress.

potato plants - Ca concentration.jpg

Potato is a cool-season crop that is grown in areas where the summer temperatures often exceed 100°F. Research in controlled environment chambers clearly shows the benefit of Increasing the concentration of soluble calcium in the nutrient solution.

Ensure your crops have all the calcium they need to manage heat stress

How do you ensure that your crops have all the calcium they need to manage heat stress? YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate is the ideal choice to provide your crop with calcium.

Fertilizers like YaraLiva® UCAN-17™ or CN-9® have typically been used early in the spring to provide crops with readily available nitrate-N when soil and air temperatures are cool. However, the soluble calcium in YaraLiva CAN-17 and CN-9 also plays a key role in helping crops overcome environmental stresses such as heat, water, salinity and sodicity.

YaraLiva products need to be part of your season-long fertilizer program in order to reach optimal yield and quality. Contact your Yara representative today to find a YaraLiva distributor near you.

Learn more about calcium nitrate for potatoes


Related article

Drought Stress: Your Crop Needs Calcium Now

jimmy ridgway
Jimmy Ridgway
Regional Sales Manager

Idaho / Intermountain West

Kacey Kiehn
Kacey Kiehn
Regional Sales Manager