Renewable Farming

Yes, you can successfully foliar-feed crops when leaves are wet with dew

“Good morning, Jerry — I’m calling from my cornfield. Just checking where Matt sprayed my foliar blend and WakeUP on shoulder-high corn.”

The call came from one of our innovative clients, Rick Nervig, who raises corn and soybeans in northwest Iowa. “The leaves are dripping with dew. The co-op says I shouldn’t be spraying until after 10 when the dew is off. But now my son has a high-clearance Hagie sprayer — and you’ve always said that WakeUP uses the dew to improve nutrient absorption. In the rows we sprayed just a few minutes ago, the corn leaves look dry — and there’s a smooth sheen on them.

“Rows that haven’t been sprayed are still covered with big round dewdrops.

Rick had done what we encouraged: With WakeUP Summer in his foliar-feeding spray solution, he had sprayed early in the morning when leaves were still wet. 

Back in 2009, we learned from field experience that you can effectively translocate foliar nutrients such as NPK and trace elements into crop leaves in the early morning — when the leaves are drenched with dew.

That works well only with a unique colloidal micelle surfactant: WakeUP Summer

WakeUP takes advantage of the extra moisture already on the leaves to “clear-coat” the entire leaf surface with a smooth sheen of spray solution. That’s the surfactant power of WakeUP. Five ounces an acre is enough: $3.51 an acre. 

The cleansing power of WakeUP goes to work on the film of moisture. It softens and temporarily lifts the waxy leaf cuticle. Every plant has an outer layer which seals the leaf against losing excessive moisture.

With the cuticle made permeable, inner palisade cells of the leaf sponge up spray material in minutes. 

Spraying early gives you several advantages:

1. Winds are typically more quiet early in the day, before advective circulation from the sun kicks in. There’s less drift of your spray products.

2. Relative humidity is higher, which reduces evaporation loss of the spray. This is especially important if you’re spraying just four or five gallons per acre by aircraft. 

3. You can trim total gallons of spray solution per acre into the 10 to 15 gallon range and still get uniform glossy coverage of leaves.

4. Temperatures are usually near their daily lows early in the day. That gives you more hours to spray before daily highs push above 80. Studies by the University of Nebraska found that early morning spraying was much more effective in delivering foliar nutrients than spraying during the heat of the day. Dr. Carey Reams always quipped that the best hours for foliar feeding were around 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. — well ahead of sunrise, when leaves are just beginning to metabolize the day’s sugar production. 

5. With WakeUP as your surfactant/carrier, you don’t need a fine mist, which is subject to more evaporation and drift. Regardless of droplet size, the spray solution sheets across the leaves. That’s true of smooth leaves, and fuzzy ones like soybeans. 

Here’s an example:  The soybean leaf below is unsprayed. It’s covered with dew from the finest “mist” in nature: Condensing moisture from the air. The water forms tiny droplets on the leaf hairs.


However, when a spray solution laced with WakeUP Summer hits a dew-laden leaf, these micro-droplets mingle with the spray droplets and smoothly coat the leaf, as shown in the leaf below.


We first saw this capability in 2009 when we needed to spray a soybean field between persistent rain events. The ground was just dry enough for field travel early one morning, but the sky was overcast and showers were predicted for mid-morning. Relative humidity was near 100%, the temperature was 68, and the soybean leaves were drenched with dew. We decided to spray WakeUP and trace elements anyway.

The surprise showed up as we sprayed the half-mile-long rows: By the time we completed a full round, the beans sprayed 10 to 15 minutes earlier looked dry. We took photos, and have shown the photo below several times in farmer seminars. However, few farmers are willing to take the chance, defy conventional wisdom and spray WakeUP Summer with nutrients while dew sparkles on crop leaves.

Soybeans sprayed with WakeUP: Surface tension of droplets falls; the condensed moisture helps absorb foliar-fed nutrients into leaves