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

MicronutrientsReport: Demand For Zinc As Micronutrient In Agriculture Grows
May 12, 2014
Zinc is becoming more important to increasing crop yields as global population and food consumption continue to rise. Read More
Sulfur Deficiency In Corn
Micronutrients3 Key Questions For Sulfur Application
February 3, 2014
Match sulfur supply to corn crop’s needs to maximize yields and fertilizer dollars. Read More
Micronutrients11 Tips For Effective Fall Application Of Gypsum
September 26, 2013
Spreading gypsum – which often occurs in late fall, after harvest – is simple if you follow these basic steps from GYPSOIL. Read More

Trending Articles

MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechBerendes Joins Verdesian Board Of Directors
September 2, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences announced that Robert Berendes has recently joined the company's board of directors. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
September 2, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches Performance Agriculture Brand
September 2, 2014
Performance Agriculture complements Pinnacle’s existing brands, including Sanders, the company’s flagship farm input retail brand. Read More
Webinars5 Key Benefits Of Attending A Webinar
September 2, 2014
Webinars can provide ag retailers with a convenient option for gaining knowledge on the latest industry issues and solutions. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More