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

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
MicronutrientsHelena Launching Two New Products
May 11, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency by introducing two new products: Receptor and MicroMerge 55441SP, designed Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
StewardshipOgallala Aquifer At Risk
September 4, 2015
The Ogallala Aquifer, with total water storage capacity about equal to that of Lake Huron in the Midwest, is the Read More
Valley Irrigation variable rate irrigation
StewardshipNebraska Getting Water Conservation Right
September 4, 2015
A precipitation map of Nebraska looks startlingly like a rainbow, with each colored band marking a different level of rainfall. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience: A Decade Of Innovation
September 3, 2015
BLAMS! It’s not a sound effect from the pages of a Superhero comic book. Instead this nifty acronym is used Read More
ManagementReviewing MAGIE 2015
September 2, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks what he saw at the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show. Read More
Melissa Olds Dow AgroSciences
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Highlighting The Past, Present & …
September 2, 2015
In general, media events held by large agricultural suppliers tend to focus primarily on what plans the company has in Read More
Mobile tablet
OpinionTaking Data Head On
September 2, 2015
As you read this column, I’m hoping that if you picked up the phone and gave me a call, you’d Read More
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More