Micros Power Through Season

Tiger 90CR Sulfur Field

A triad of factors that included weather, product-delivery challenges and crop prices set the stage for a mighty interesting fertilizer season, and micronutrient suppliers felt the impact along with the rest of the industry.

Manufacturers witnessed some developments with gladness. Productivity and sales have rebounded from low volumes and high prices of last year, says Dirk Lohry, president, Nulex Inc. And the markets are more stable than they have been the past two years, he notes.

Early planting and soil conditions at planting time were conducive to micronutrient use in starter fertilizers, says Jerry Stoller, president, Stoller USA. He saw retailers take advantage of good planting conditions to add value to their starter products.

But Dan Froehlich, Mosaic’s U.S. agronomy manager, found that many “customers were undecided on whether to plant corn or soybeans until planting started. They seemed to plant corn until weather conditions were unfavorable, then switched to soybeans to finish.”

Last spring, Lohry saw conditions in his sales regions that prove the value of micronutrients. Extended cold soil temperatures and wetness slowed root growth and nutrient uptake. But starter quantities of micronutrients applied in a band overcame some of the problem.

Just-in-time delivery of products on both ends of the application timeline — from starter fertilizer to in-season foliar work — threatened the fertilizer upswing. “Grower indecision and reluctance of dealerships to bring in product that wasn’t already sold made this year more challenging than most,” says Froehlich. “It took some extra effort, but most dealers were supplied to meet their needs.”

Crop prices were encouraging. Stoller points out that corn and soybean prices significantly increased during the months of July and August — compared to a decrease last year at the same time — providing the economic incentive for growers to extend the micronutrient window. He says his greatest surprise was the length of time micros were used on crops, with the number of micro applications during July and August, particularly in corn and soybeans, much higher than in previous years.

Nutrient Headliners

Many of our micronutrient experts agreed that demand for zinc was high this season as deficiencies have become more common the last two years. Nulex’s Lohry has found exceptional gains in chelated formulations, particularly zinc, added to the company’s PureGrade products. “Zinc for corn is always our most important micronutrient/crop combination,” he says.

This year retailers and growers were looking for economical effectiveness, the cheapest way the get the nutrients into the plant, Lohry adds. He believes the best approach is using a complexed zinc, sequestered in a polyphosphate solution, that is applied in the root zone of the plant.

Wolf Trax currently has eight DDP (Dry Dispersible Powder) Micro­nutri­ent products available, including its new Cropmix DDP, a blended formulation of zinc, manganese, boron, copper, and iron that is designed to get crops off to a good start. Kerry Green, managing director at Wolf Trax, says his team was encouraged by the rapid acceptance of the product, which the company introduced in limited quantities this year (along with a commercial turf formulation, Turfmix DDP). Both products sold out.

Green says many retailers recommend the DDP technology — where each fertilizer prill is coated with micronutrient — to customers because they like the consistent distribution they get across the field.

Green is also getting reports that the company’s new seed nutrition product PROTINUS is helping growers produce “larger, more vigorous seedlings and bigger root systems in a wide variety of crops. We expect these differences to positively impact yield,” he says.

Manganese (Mn), particularly in soy­bean/glyphosate production systems, is getting more attention. Lohry cites research from Dr. Don Huber at Purdue University that suggests soils that are less biologically healthy will benefit more from application of manganese on glyphosate-resistant soybeans.

Some of the company’s PureGrade dealers are adding manganese to foliar applications on beans as a matter of course. “So far, we don’t know if these efforts are actually overcoming the yield drag that many glyphosate-resistant beans have. It’s too early to tell,” says Lohry.

He says the biggest problem with foliar Mn on soybeans is the timing. He believes it should be foliar-applied at least five days before glyphosate application or at least 10 days after, necessitating another sprayer trip over the field. “I’m afraid growers are simply tank mixing chelated Mn with glyphosate and spraying,” Lohry says. He recommends that if mixing Mn with glyphosate, the EDTA chelated form be used.

Green says Wolf Trax has definite­ly seen an increased use pattern of Manganese DDP as a tank-mixing partner with glyphosate, particularly in soybeans.

“Wolf Trax Manganese DDP has been formulated for both fertilizer coating and foliar applications, and its patented Dual-Action availability provides growers with added flexibility for timing their applications,” says Green. He also noted an increased demand for manganese and boron DDP in other foliar applications as well.

While not a micronutrient, sulfur was also a big seller this season. “It’s by far in the highest demand as we have cut back on the use of other products that traditionally supplied some sulfur and cleaned up the air from acid rain,” says Froehlich. Mosaic’s MicroEssentials SZ showed a dramatic starter effect this spring that carried through to pollination — and will hopefully translate into much high yields this fall, he notes.

Jeff Ivan, manager of marketing and business development, Tiger-Sul Products, heard reports of surprising levels of sulfur deficiencies in regions that have typically been fine. He sees demand for sulfur increasing as fall approaches. “A fall-applied 4% zinc/sulfur formulation is seeing a lot of interest as it addresses both sulfur and zinc requirements for corn in the Midwest,” he says. In fact, “a lot of dealers are looking at blending our Tiger Micronutrients 4% Zinc granular fertilizer with potash to spread this fall. This application will improve zinc soil distribution and the sulfur will enhance NPK utilization. It makes sense in terms of application efficiencies and plant nutrient use efficiencies.”

Rod Riech, product manager, Brandt Consolidated, points out that foliar applications may be needed in a field. Soil tests may read adequate levels of micronutrients, but that doesn’t mean they’re available to the plant, he cautions. And environmental factors such as overly dry or wet weather can also determine if a certain micronutrient is available. “That’s why foliar applications are so effective in terms of delivering micronutrients to the plant — we’ve heard many success stories from the field,” he says.

A favorite this season? The company’s new Brandt Smart System and Manni-Plex formulations (which contain nitrogen, magnesium, boron, copper, manganese, and zinc) have been a help in tank mixes, says Riech. They’ve improved physical and biological compatibility of micros with pesticides, particularly glyphosate, he says.

Retailers’ Stake

“Retailers and producers are beginning to understand the need for micronutrients as we push yields to a higher level,” says Froehlich. More progressive dealerships are stepping up their efforts in promoting a balanced crop nutrition story and focusing on the factors limiting production. “Once N, P and K are balanced, micronutrients are the next step. Growers need to keep their minds open to new ideas and formulations that can enhance production,” he adds.

Stoller would put retailers into three categories: Those that sell and promote only micronutrients recommended by soil tests/tissue tests or by the state university for a particular crop in a particular region; those that have at least one person scouting the fields who knows how to identify micronutrient problems not only on leaves but on roots; and those that don’t handle or promote micronutrient use — they are primarily selling N, P, K and sulfur.

Stoller says dealer categories one and two are growing slightly every year. The driver? “Producers are wondering how they can increase yields. Consultants and crop experts feel that micronutrients may be responsible or a key to substantially increasing yields,” he explains.

Lohry is concerned about the long-term trend of lower levels of micronutrients in soils — as well as fewer nutrients in general. “We are seeing micronutrient deficiencies in areas that never had them,” he says. “More moisture, higher yields and continuous cropping are removing more nutrients than are being replaced. There is more yellower corn in the Midwest this year than I have ever seen.”

His advice is simple: “Do more soil tests and tissue samples now more than ever.”

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
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
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Sells Oxyfluorfen Herbicides To China&…
November 16, 2015
Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co., has entered into definitive agreements under which Nutrichem Read More
HerbicidesEuropean Agency Declares Glyphosate Unlikely To Cause C…
November 13, 2015
Glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said on Thursday, and the agency Read More