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

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
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
Trending Articles
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
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
Latest News
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More