A Bigger Micro Scope

For much of the 2000s, micronutrients have been something of a red-headed stepchild compared with other crop inputs. As macronutrient prices have stayed high, crop prices have been down, and fuel costs have risen on an almost weekly basis, it’s easy to understand why micronutrients haven’t recorded strong sales.

“Even when prices go high for major nutrients, growers aren’t going to grow anything without the N, P, K (nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium) products,” said Paul McCoy, Jr., president of NutriChem, a supplier partner to American Minerals, Dunedin, FL, when CropLife® interviewed him during the summer of 2006. “Un­for­tunately, the first thing that gets eliminated is micronutrients.”

For further proof of this trend in action, consider the findings of the 2006 CropLife 100 retailers survey: When retailers were asked how their micronutrient sales performed during the year, only 49% reported experiencing an increase (compared to 84% for biotech seed and 65% for fertilizer). An almost equal number — 44% — said their micronutrient sales were flat during the 2006 growing season.

But — not to sound too cliché — what a difference a year makes. Going into the 2007 growing season, market observers are practically universally positive that this will be a fantastic year for micronutrients. The reason, of course, ties directly back to anticipated growth in overall corn acreage in the U.S. as the rapidly expanding ethanol market grows in leaps and bounds.

“It’s shaping up to be an excellent year,” says Jeff Ivan, manager of marketing and business development for Tiger-Sul Products, Calgary, AB, CAN. “Strong commodity prices, brought on by demand from ethanol producers, are expanding into virtually all crop types. I believe we are starting a major trend upward in agriculture, with crop prices staying high for many years to come.”

More Corn = More Micronutrients

In a sense, say several market insiders, the expected boom times for micronutrients in 2007 is long overdue. According to most suppliers, U.S. growers have spent the past half-dozen years “mining” their soils when it comes to important micronutrients such as copper and zinc. “With crop prices low — around $1.70 per bushel for corn — not many growers were rushing to replenish their micronutrient levels, and they suffered some yield losses as a result,” says Kip Smallwood, director of sales for Tetra Micronutrients, Inc., Houston, TX. “But with corn prices now topping $3 per bushel, and expected to go higher as demand increases, many of these same growers are very interested in finding ways to boost their yields. Putting down a fresh batch of micronutrients is one of the ways to do this.”

If there’s a potential obstacle to this unprecedented micronutrient growth occurring in 2007, warns Smallwood, it could be a result of overall higher demand leading to higher prices. Demand for all crop inputs from fast-growing agricultural global powerhouses such as China and India has severely limited the world’s available supply of certain products in recent months. “You are already seeing some wild price fluctuations for a few micronutrients such as copper and zinc, with prices up over $1 per pound in some cases,” he says. “If this continues, and the costs for transportation and fuel keep climbing, you could see some pushback from the market starting to take place.”

Despite this threat to growth, however, most micronutrient suppliers are convinced 2007 will be a year to remember for everyone involved in the industry. At present, approximately 15% of the U.S. corn crop is utilized to produce ethanol. By 2010, this percentage is expected to double at the very least, say market forecasters.

“It’s well-known that corn is one of the most input intensive crops around, and several million acres more of corn in 2007 should mean all crop inputs will be up, including micronutrients,” says Kerry Green, managing director for Wolf Trax, Inc., Winnipeg, MB, CAN. “I fully expect crop prices to stay high enough that growers will be looking for every way possible to increase their yields. Basically, when all is said and done, this will probably be the closest to a ‘can’t miss year’ for sales we will ever see.”

Leave a Reply

Micronutrients Stories

Young Corn Closeup
MicronutrientsBiostimulants And Micronutrients: The Making Of A Market
September 7, 2016
The market for biostimulants and micronutrients continues to grow faster than many other areas of the crop protection market. While Read More
Aerial Photo of Advanced Micronutrient Products in Reese MI
MicronutrientsAdvanced Micronutrient Products Big On Custom Blends
September 7, 2016
John Bowen, whose father started Cameron Chemicals in 1986, has his own unique approach to today’s market. The company evolved Read More
corn
MicronutrientsMicronutrients 2016: Market Updates From Key Suppliers
September 7, 2016
This is the year that people should be going back to using micronutrients. After all, to open the door, you Read More
Aspire with Boron
Crop InputsStudy: Aspire with Boron Ups Alfalfa Yields
June 8, 2016
Alfalfa growers are successfully improving yields through the cutting season by applying an important micronutrient. In a recent study, The Read More
Trending Articles
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Latest News
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In …
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Ryan Bartlett
Crop InputsCompass Minerals Appoints Vice President, Innovation An…
December 8, 2016
Ryan Bartlett, Ph.D., has joined Compass Minerals as vice president, innovation and product development. Dr. Bartlett will be responsible for Read More
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More