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PFR Report: Pour Some Sugar On Me...

Ooh, in the name of photosynthesis

Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Pouring sugar…on plants? What kind of madness is this?

Not madness at all! After all, plants need sugar for carbohydrate transport, energy, and stored fuel. Carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars, like glucose, are converted to complex sugars by means of starches. When this conversion process occurs in plants, better growth, and development, improved regulation of various biological systems, as well as respiration and transpiration steps can occur. 

IA PFR team loading sugar in-furrow on corn

From the equation of photosynthesis, we know that plants like corn and soybeans convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen with the aid of sunlight. Plants produce sugars, but what would happen if we applied sugar to our Midwestern row crops?

Photo showing the chemically balanced equation of photosynthesis. Plants need carbohydrates (sugar) for cellular respiration, which is why photosynthesis is so vital for plants to perform efficiently!

We have typically witnessed increased yield gains and positive returns on investments in our Practical Farm Research (PFR)® studies. We are trying to obtain a better grasp of the reason why. Some studies have suggested that the increase of beneficial insects, due to “artificial honeydew” created by sugar application on crops could be a part of the explanation. See University of Nebraska-Lincoln research by clicking here.

In PFR, we tested sugar products on both corn and soybean systems in 2018. We analyzed sugar applied in two different application methods on corn: in-furrow and foliar. Sugar application on corn was also tested in a rate and timing study at four of our PFR sites. Similar trials occurred on soybean systems with sugar products in 2018; a foliar study and a sugar rate study.

To see the results of our multi-location data, click the links below to view these 2018 PFR sugar trials!

2018 PFR Multi-Location Corn Sugar Studies Data

2018 PFR Multi-Location Soybean Sugar Studies Data

2018 PFR Multi-Location Double Crop Soybean Sugar Study Data

Sugar products from left to right: 4 lbs. of Feed Grade Dextrose, eXceed™ Nano Brown Sugar, Carbose, and Syntose FA™. Beck’s PFR sites used these sugar products in both in-furrow and foliar trials.

When comparing our multi-year, multi-location data, from an application standpoint, we have seen average positive ROI investments from both in-furrow and foliar applications.

On Corn:

Two-Year, Multi-Location Sugar In-Furrow ROI on Corn


Two-Year, Multi-Location Sugar Foliar ROI on Corn


On Corn:

Two-Year, Multi-Location Sugar Foliar ROI on Soybeans


As we look forward to the 2019 planting season, we are excited to see what else we can analyze with sugar product applications in our PFR studies on corn, soybeans, and this year-wheat! Stay tuned with what’s new in PFR by following our reports on our blog and YouTube page, and by using the hashtag #AskPFR on social media. Happy planting everyone!

Deatra Gremaux | PFR Data and Logistics Manager 

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