Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Carbohydrates provide the energy to the soil system, which helps to stimulate natural existing soil microbes. Carbohydrates contain complex starches and simple sugars.

Carbohydrates are used by the plant and offer some unique benefits.

  1. Provide an energy source to stimulate soil microbes.
  2. Enhance soil aggregation and water infiltration.
  3. Provide bio-stimulant properties and an aid to hormone synthesis.
  4. Provide sugars for root elongation and seed germination.
  5. Aid with anion retention.

    Carbohydrates are broken down during plant respiration to release energy, water and CO2. This is similar to human metabolism where we metabolize oxygen and food in order to live. Like humans, respiration in plants is highest at warm temperatures. Respiration is very high in cool season plants in hot weather, respiration may deplete all of the carbohydrates in the plant.

Growth is the irreversible change in size. Plants grow in two ways: cell division and cell elongation. Cell growth takes an enormous amount of energy. Producing cell walls, cell constituents, proteins, genetic material, etc. requires energy derived directly from photosynthesis or indirectly through stored carbohydrates.

Storage is the last of the four major processes but may be the most important. Carbohydrates and sometimes proteins are stored for future use by the plant. Storage products are utilized for respiration during periods of stress to help maintain the plant when photosynthesis is not occurring or occurring at low levels. The level of storage is a good indicator of how well a plant will survive stressful conditions, including heat, drought, cold, disease, etc.

All cultural practice that affects growth, such as fertilization or mowing, uses up carbohydrates that would otherwise be sent to storage. Great care must be taken not to cause a depletion in reserves, which reduces the ability of the plant to withstand stress.