Micronutrients Battle Stress, Yield Loss

These soybean plants, grown by Wolf Trax Inc. in a field trial, show that PROTINUS-treated soybeans, left, had larger, more developed seedlings than the control plants, right.
These soybean plants, grown by Wolf Trax Inc. in a field trial, show that PROTINUS-treated soybeans, left, had larger, more developed seedlings than the control plants, right.

After an encouraging spring season led to early plantings throughout the Midwest, retailers began to see micronutrient sales taper off a bit as the season progressed and drought conditions began to take hold, putting a damper on late season sales for the majority of retailers, according to Mike Powell, brand manager, BioScience & Nutritional Products, Helena Chemical Co. “In both Helena’s northern and southern trade areas, sales started out very strong but declined as the drought took grip. Where it did rain, however, record crop prices definitely helped drive mid- to late-season sales,” says Powell.

Brandt’s National Sales Director, Dr. Julian Smith, witnessed similar results at the CropLife 100 No. 21-ranked retail operation. “Sales were strong until July, when the drought postponed later sprays, such as fungicides and insecticides, which normally carry micronutrients,” says Smith. “The eastern seaboard, however, has been particularly strong in 2012, as adequate water made for solid plantings.”

As drought conditions worsened, growers found little value in micronutrient applications to faltering corn and soybean crops, regardless of how encouraging commodity prices remained, according to Stoller USA President Jerry Stoller. “Sales from January through May were extremely high, mostly due to the early and long duration of the planting season,” says Stoller. “Sales from June onward quickly dropped off, as micronutrient and other yield enhancement product sales made a severe decline as crop deterioration occurred. Naturally, growers were hesitant to add any additional cost to crops that were being so severely damaged by climactic conditions.”

Unlike last year, when early projections of micronutrient supplies warned of possible shortages, 2012 saw a “snug but not overly difficult market,” according to Drew Taylor, Director of Tiger-Sul Product Management and International Sales, H.J. Baker & Bro. Inc.

Jereleen Brydon, director of marketing with Wolf Trax Inc., reported no shortages or supply difficulties as well. “Wolf Trax DDP Micronutrients are formulated as dry dispersible powders, so supply was never an issue for our customers,” says Brydon. “Our supply and in-season price consistency is one of the things our customers are most satisfied with.”

Conversely, Helena Chemical saw its supply lines tighten up a bit, although it didn’t affect growers or retailers. “Raw materials were a bit tight, but we have a well-rounded portfolio of products and good relationships with our preferred vendors,” says Powell. “Our forecasting and ordering processes served us well and we ended up with an ample supply of micronutrients.”

Stress Concerns

With the drought aggressively attacking record yield projections, limiting crop loss by managing stress via micronutrient applications became an over-arching theme of the season.

“Stress mitigation through micronutrient application has proven very successful again, and appears to have helped in a number of drought affected areas,” says Brandt’s Smith. “Brandt Smart Trio has again had a standout season, while Brandt Manni Plex foliars have been outstanding in the east and Midwest. Out west, Calcium/Zinc and Calcium/Magnesium combos have enjoyed success.”

Micronutrients are also critical in nurturing growth in biotech varieties, according to Stoller.

“Micronutrients perform a catalytic activity on increasing the biochemical process in plants,” explains Stoller. “They also provide a number of hormonal effects, which depend upon the particular micronutrients used. The hormone balance determines the cell division, cell differentiation and cell arrangement that occur in plants. In other words, the growth characteristics of plants and yield of plants is directly related to the proper hormone balance the plant maintains through its life cycle.”

As for individual nutrients, many retailers saw increased demand for Zinc, according to Brydon. “The challenge, especially with corn, is getting the crop off to a good start,” he says. “Many growers are using starter fertilizer and adding zinc. Our Zinc DDP has become a preferred source of zinc for many growers because it is custom designed to get into the plant as early as possible.”

Another product from Wolf Trax turning heads is its PROTINUS Seed Nutrition. “The product that really shined this season is our PROTINUS Seed Nutrition, a zinc, manganese and iron formulation that creates a ‘nutrient friendly zone,’” says Brydon. “Growers and retailers are impressed with how PROTINUS helped the crop get up and out of the soil, and we continue to receive pictures and reports of excellent performance. Reports show that height and maturity differences lasted through the season.”

“Many products are enjoying healthy sales, and some of our newer products really took off,” says Helena’s Powell. “This includes Nucleus O-Phos, an orthophosphate fertilizer with fully EDTA-chelated micronutrients. Overall, we saw a lot of demand for zinc, magnesium and boron, along with Axilo Mix 5, ENC and TraFix Zn.”

Sulfur also found a nice foothold this summer, according to H.J. Baker’s Taylor. “Tiger 90 CR, Tiger Copper 12% and Tiger Zinc 4% have increased in popularity, as have broadcast application and micronutrient enhanced sulfur bentonite products, which are growing,” he says. “The benefits of sulfur as a primary ingredient are a big seller due to the popularity of sulfur fertility, and we find future potential for the fall application of sulfur.

“Going forward, Tiger is focusing on better identification of our bentonite sulfur class of products,” adds Taylor. “We have an agronomist who has been traveling and communicating with the land grant schools to have better identification of this class rather than what has been commonly referred to an ‘elemental sulfur.’”

Yield’s ‘Final Frontier’

Stoller sees the increased use of micronutrients only growing stronger as growers proactively protect future yields against loss. “The major new breakthrough in understanding crop production is to determine how we can avoid yield loss rather than continuing to ‘increase yields,’” he says. “The prevention of yield loss due to temperature, moisture and sunlight will be the driving force that propels the future of production agriculture.”

Wolf Trax also predicts an increased demand for micros. “Looking beyond 2012, growers continue to strive for 300-bushel corn,” says Brydon. “The role of micronutrients in reaching that goal with new hybrids continues to gain interest. “

“The understanding of micronutrients has increased markedly over the last few years and many realize that micronutrients are indeed essential inputs, particularly with new crop genetics,” says Brandt’s Smith. “The days of just curing deficiencies are long gone.”

As commodity prices continue to trend upward, micronutrient use will likely continue to grow in prominence.

“With the potential for increased planting of corn and soybeans next season because of higher prices, there will be a need for growers to maximize yields with the proper nutrition — including the right micronutrient balance,” says Powell. “Our Helena Team across the country will be ready to help growers and retailers with our quality micronutrient options like TraFix Zn or TraFix Zn XL, among others.”

Naturally then, tuned-in manufacturers are ramping up their micronutrient lineups, adding new products as the market’s optimistic outlook encourages advancement.

H.J. Baker’s Tiger Products will be adding to the Tiger lineup in 2013. “Tiger is going to announce the addition of Boron to our Tiger line-up,” says Taylor. “This is a gigantic deal as it has been requested by our growers for years. The spatial distribution and soil chemistry benefit of combining Tiger 90 with Boron is going to be a big hit next season.” A formal launch is planned for some time in October or November.

“The market appears to be relatively stable for the near term,” adds Smith. “Newer technologies will focus on crop protection partners for micronutrient sprays, such as stress mitigation, weed resistance management, fungicide/photosynthetic efficiencies and tools to assist maximum gene expression for yield and quality in Bts (Bacillus thuringiensis).”

Leave a Reply

Micronutrients Stories

Dry Blend of Micronutrients
Crop InputsMicronutrients 2015: Making Hay In A Down Market
September 5, 2015
Going into 2015, downward trending commodity prices were identified as a possible threat to sales revenues of micronutrient fertilizer products, Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulation For Crops
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsWinField: Here’s What We’re Seeing So Far This Season
June 25, 2015
One of the most important things you can do throughout the season to help increase yield potential is to ensure Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Life Sciences Invests In People, Agricultural Technology
June 22, 2015
In mid-February, the USDA released its new 10-year agriculture projections. While the numbers are new, the theme was consistent. The Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100United Cooperative Acquires Four ADM Wisconsin Facilities
November 12, 2015
United Cooperative, based out of Beaver Dam, WI, recently acquired four grain and agronomy locations from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Car Makes NASCAR Xfinity Series
October 29, 2015
BRANDT will join JR Motorsports with driver, Justin Allgaier, for the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity (NXS) Series season. Allgaier will pilot Read More
CHS Building exterior
CropLife 100CHS Leaders Help Shape Succession Report
October 22, 2015
Succession planning was listed as a main concern of cooperative leaders at this summer’s 15 regional CHS owner town hall Read More
Fall Harvest
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases Eight Regional Seed Companies
October 12, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has announced the purchase of eight regional seed companies to advance its seed business. Pinnacle has acquired: Read More
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Opens Dry Fertilizer Storage And Blending Facility In Washington
October 8, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co., ranked No. 4 on the CropLife 100, has constructed and opened a 22,000-ton dry fertilizer storage and blending Read More
Latest News
HerbicidesBREAKING: EPA Pulls Registration On Dow’s Enlist …
November 25, 2015
EPA on Wednesday withdrew approval of a controversial new weed killer to be used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, Read More
FertilizerYara Tampa Ammonia Terminal Garners ResponsibleAg Honor…
November 25, 2015
Yara has received its first ResponsibleAg Certification for its Tampa, FL, Ammonia terminal location. This achievement demonstrates Yara’s commitment to Read More
ManagementReviewing The Top Ag Stories For 2015
November 24, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss the most noteworthy events from this past year in agriculture. Read More
EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Sc…
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Radish cover crop
StewardshipCover Crops Guide Helps Growers Improve Water Quality
November 23, 2015
A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won Read More
Crop InputsThe Andersons’ Products Receive California Organi…
November 23, 2015
The Plant Nutrient Group of The Andersons, Inc. announced today that its Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG products are Read More
Eric SfiligojNew European Study Seems To Support Glyphosate Safety
November 23, 2015
Looking at any international news over the past few years, it might seem as if the European Union (EU) is Read More
Toggle Biostimulant corn roots
Crop InputsTwo New Biostimulants Added To United Suppliers’ …
November 20, 2015
Winfield US announces the launch of two new products in the United Suppliers portfolio for the 2016 crop season, Optify Read More
StewardshipNRDC Report: Cover Crops Contain Vast Benefits
November 19, 2015
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a Read More
Fall Harvest
Seed/BiotechArysta Launches New Seed Protectant
November 19, 2015
As spring wheat growers begin planning for a strong start to their season, Arysta LifeScience North America announces RANCONA V Read More
Crop InputsInocucor Receives U.S. Patent For Microbials
November 19, 2015
Inocucor Technologies Inc., the Montreal-based agriculture biotech company, was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Read More
ManagementSyngenta Rumors and ARA 2015 Preview
November 19, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj looks at the latest rumors involving Syngenta selling its crop protection business and talks about events Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Finalists For Operator Of The Year Honor
November 19, 2015
AGCO Corp. has announced the four top operators chosen as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual Operator of the Year program, Read More
High Plains Aquifer
StewardshipStudy: High Plains Aquifer Overall Usage In Decline
November 18, 2015
A new Kansas State University study finds that the over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer’s groundwater beyond the aquifer’s recharge Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
FungicidesArysta Launches New Corn And Soybean Fungicide
November 17, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America has recently launched ZOLERA FX Fungicide. The highly systemic, powerful fungicide delivers broad-spectrum disease control with Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance: Microbials Targeted For 250-500 million…
November 17, 2015
Monsanto and Novozymes have announced a new 2025 acreage target that will guide the companies’ microbials business for the next Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Still Being Eyed For China Takeover
November 16, 2015
China National Chemical Corp. approached sovereign wealth funds including China Investment Corp. to help pay for a potential acquisition of Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojCooperative Consolidation Continues
November 16, 2015
As I put this enewsletter column together, we’ve just put the finishing touches on our magazine’s annual CropLife 100 report. Read More