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

Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrients
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
Tissue Sampling
Crop InputsMicronutrients Remain A Piece Of Yield Puzzle In 2017
February 4, 2017
There are a couple different market forces working on the micronutrients segment currently in U.S. agriculture. Most impactful, of course, Read More
Fertilizer Tender close-up
MicronutrientsHow Micronutrients Fit Into 2017 Fertility Plans
January 10, 2017
Where do micronutrients stand going forward in fertility plans? For one thing, Tim Mundorf, Field Representative with Midwest Laboratories, says Read More
Trey Curtis, Concept Ag owner
MicronutrientsConcept Ag Debuts TransMaxx Technology For Foliar Applications Of Calcium, Other Nutrients
December 15, 2016
Concept Ag Soil & Plant Nutrition has launched TransMaxx Technology, an innovative translocation technology for foliar feeding crop fertility products. Read More
Trending Articles
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
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
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
Latest News
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationARA: Sonny Perdue Confirmation Delay Simply A Paperwork…
March 9, 2017
It’s been seven weeks since the White House named former Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.) as the nominee for the next Read More