Get ahead of the game by being able to detect plant stresses weeks before you normally could. The CM 1000 Chlorophyll Meter, a hand-held tool available from Spectrum Technologies, enables you to detect plant stresses by measuring the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves of a plant. This can be helpful in determining if a disease is coming into the crop or if your fertility program isn't sufficient.

The CM 1000 works by taking a relative index of chlorophyll content in a leaf. For example, in the field you would use a control strip, which might represent a maximum fertility rate. The rest of the field would be fertilized at an economic rate. You would then take measurements in both the control strip and the rest of the field by simply aiming the meter at the plant leaves and pushing a button. The meter measures how much light is being absorbed by the chlorophyll in each leaf. The amount of light absorbed gives an indication of plant stress.

NASA, who initially developed the product, claims that the CM 1000 has the ability to detect plant stress up to 16 days before it is visible to the human eye.

The meter requires a software program to enable the data logger and store readings. The readings can then be transferred to your personal computer. If you have a GPS unit, it can also be used in conjunction with the CM 1000 to tell you exactly where the samples in the field were taken.

The CM 1000 has been tested on cotton, potatoes, citrus, grapes, turfgrass, and other horticultural crops. Some initial testing has also been completed on wheat and soybeans. Spectrum Technologies, Inc. also has a license to sell a similar device that works well on small grains and corn. Price: $ 2,190 for the meter, $199 for the software (including a cable) and a GPS cable is available for $30. Contact Spectrum Technologies, Inc., Dept. FIN, 23839 W. Andrew Rd., Plainfield, IL 60544, 800/248-8873, info@specmeters.com, www.specmeters.com.