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Answering Your Top Questions about White Mold in Soybeans

White Mold is one of those diseases we plan for, but we never really know if we will have it until it’s here. It has been a significant concern for farmers over the years, and rightfully so, because of how devastating it can be to the crop yield.  This disease is very different from other vascular and foliar diseases, so it comes with a very different set of considerations to know about. 

Let’s dig into the top questions—and answers—about understanding and managing White Mold in soybeans.

 

When/where is White Mold likely to show up?

White Mold is most likely to occur during seasons with cooler temperatures and high moisture/humidity in a lush soybean canopy during early flowering. Due to delayed planting in some areas, not all fields will have canopy closure before flowering occurs, which will help keep air flowing under the canopy, reducing disease potential during early reproduction. However, soybeans flower for 3-4 weeks, so if you had White Mold problems two years ago in the same field, you should prepare for a resurgence this year.

 

How is White Mold different from other diseases?

White Mold infects plants earlier than most foliar soybean diseases. White Mold infects through flowers and destroys the vascular tissue of the plant. As a vascular disease (stem rot), White Mold shuts off water and nutrients to the plant, unlike a foliar disease, which infects through the leaf and reduces photosynthesis.

 

How does White Mold impact plant health and crop yield?

Significant yield loss may occur from White Mold, depending on when it infects the plants and the size of the infected area. Infected plants can be up to 100% yield loss because White Mold typically kills the plant before it starts seed fill, but this may only be in small areas within a field.

What does White Mold look like in the field?

To identify White Mold in your fields, look for fluffy, white growth on the lower stem during mid-to-late reproduction. Plants also begin to wilt and look drought-stressed, with a gray tinge to them from the road. They may also show foliar symptoms similar to Sudden Death Syndrome or Brown Stem Rot, however, the whole plant will eventually turn brown and die. Black sclerotia can also be found inside the stem. Look for little black pellets inside the stem, as the picture below shows.

When should I scout for White Mold?

It is difficult to say when to start scouting for White Mold. Typically in late July or early August, if you see heavy fogs in the morning or continued leaf wetness, those are good indications to start to walk fields or call your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator. At this point, plants are typically in the R3-R4 growth stage and visual symptoms should start to appear. 

If you see dull, gray isolated round spots in your field, those could be early signs of White Mold setting in. However, at this point, if you do see White Mold in your fields, it is often too late to save the infected plants. All you can do is make a plan to avoid the disease in your next soybean crop.

Is there any way to treat White Mold once it occurs?

A fungicide at R1 is really the only way to stop or reduce White Mold infection. However, an R3 fungicide application may reduce severity and avoid 100% yield loss from infected plants. 

Many fungicides labeled for White Mold recommend an R1 application followed by an R3 pass if expectation for disease is high.  Once again, your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator has been trained and is knowledgeable on the chemistries available to combat and minimize White Mold.

How can I prevent White Mold in my fields?

Managing White Mold is about preventative measures.  

  • Identify which fields have shown White Mold issues in previous years and let your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator know as you prepare for the next cropping season.  
  • Choose soybean varieties with good to excellent White Mold scores. You can also select soybean varieties with tolerance to White Mold and varieties with a “narrow” or less bushy growth habit to help favor airflow under the canopy around flowering. Widening row spacing and/or decreasing planting population also helps increase airflow.
  • Be prepared with a labeled fungicide right as the soybeans are beginning to flower (R1). This is one of the ways White Mold is an outlier: R3 is typically the best timing for most other soybean foliar diseases, but it’s too late for White Mold.
  • Worst case scenario, stay in a corn-on-corn rotation. Although, that has its own challenges. A corn/corn rotation won’t eliminate white mold issues since sclerotia can survive a long time in the soil.
  • Use products like Contans on the field in the fall prior to planting soybeans.  

Watch this Liqui-Grow Loop video to learn more about our tips for handling fields with White Mold.


 

Your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator and Agronomists are here to help you prevent and treat diseases in your fields. Get in touch with us to help select the right seed varieties and fungicides to protect against harmful diseases like White Mold.

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Managing Crops after High Rainfall Amounts

 


When it rains, it pours—and that’s not always a bad thing after the dry spells we’ve had over the past few years. But now that it’s drying up in places, don’t forget how much rainfall we have experienced throughout this growing season.

When soils are full of water, or as we say, at field capacity or saturated, nutrients are more readily available for plants to take up and use. This leads to higher growth rates, growing larger, healthier plants that are more capable of producing high yields.

But, too much moisture in too little time can cause some problems in your fields if you’re not careful. Now’s the time to pay extra close attention to diseases, pests and nutrients.

 

Disease and Pest Management

Regular Monitoring and Early Detection

Regularly inspect crops for early signs of disease and pest infestations. Early detection allows for timely intervention, & prevents minor issues from becoming major problems. 

This spring we have seen multiple cases of seedling diseases in both corn and soybeans. We aren’t able to fix these seedling diseases, but we can make notes for next spring and choose our hybrids differently going forward. Knowing seedling scores can make or break a stand, and our Liqui-Grow Sales Applicators are trained and knowledgeable in hybrid selection and placement.

Many of the fungi that produce the diseases we see in corn and soybeans overwinter in the crop residue and will infect the crop in spring depending if conditions are right. Tillage and rotation often help to combat these fungi. In reduced or no-till systems, we see higher levels of disease pressure. The spring we have experienced so far is potentially setting us up for a disease-stricken year. Some of those factors are:

  • Hard pounding rains splash fungi inoculum onto the leaves and plant and we will continue to see disease grow as the season continues.
  • Winds, hail and rain have created openings or lacerations on leaves, providing points of entry for fungi to infect crops.
  • Water standing for any period of time can deplete oxygen in the soil and stress the plants.
  • Compounding effects of adverse conditions early on this growing season has lowered the “immune system” of the crop in the field. 

This may feel like doom and gloom information, but a lot can still be done to help grow a good crop, and high yields. Dr. Jake fills us in on what to watch for in fields this season in one of our latest Liqui-Grow Loop videos.

Scouting is KEY to Applying Fungicides

The biggest thing this year after all the heavy spring rainfall would be, paying attention and scouting for fungicide applications. R1, for corn, is usually the most effective timing for fungicide, but if disease sets in early, going early might be beneficial to the crop. General recommendations for soybean fungicide is at R3. Keep in mind, R1 and R2 are such short windows for soybeans, you need to have that pass planned and organized in order to be at the field during R3. Heavy spring rainfalls should not change fungicide timing by much in soybeans. But scout for White Mold, which is caused by spores infecting the plant through its flowers, making the R1 time frame critical for disease. 

Fungicide applications can take care of diseases before they even appear, but scouting for those diseases is key! Get in touch with your Liqui-Grow sales applicator to learn more today!

Nitrogen Management

Side Dress, Y-Drop

As the soil profile exceeds field capacity we often are exposed to nitrogen loss, either through leaching or denitrification. 

  • Leaching is when a nutrient is lost deeper into the soil and out of the root zone. Nitrate is carried by the water and because it has a negative charge, the soil won’t hold onto it, and it will leach down into the soil profile, making it unavailable for the plants to use.   
  • Denitrification is when nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere. To hear more about this in-depth, reach out to our Liqui-Grow sales applicators on how to protect your nitrogen source. 

Before you assume you lost a certain amount of nitrogen, you need to know: how much you put down, what was your application timing, did you use a stabilizer, what was the amount of rainfall your farm experienced and what form of nitrogen did you apply. By answering those questions we can help make a recommendation on how much nitrogen you still need. To learn more about nitrogen loss, watch our new L.E.A.D. Academy video.

Utilizing Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding involves applying nutrients and biologicals directly to the leaves, ensuring that plants receive essential nutrients during critical growth stages, especially when soil conditions are not ideal. Your Liqui-Grow sales applicator can help you decide when a foliar application may be necessary.

Staying in touch with your Liqui-Grow sales applicator is the key to making sure your crops stay happy and healthy with increased rainfall this season.

Questions? Give us a shout! 

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Second Helpings: The importance of post-plant nutrients

Picture this: you've just finished a hearty meal, but you're still hungry for more. You go back for seconds to get all the nutrients you need to feel satisfied. In many ways, side dressing nutrients for corn is like going back for seconds at the dinner table, providing a spoon feeding of a three course meal right to the crop before and during the growing season. It's about providing the crop with essential elements, ensuring it has everything it needs to thrive and reach its full potential.

Pre-plant fertilization lays the foundation for healthy growth, whereas post-plant (or in-season) nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting corn plants during critical development phases, setting the crop up for the best yield potential. Side dressing nitrogen and other nutrients is a great option to continue to spoon feed that crop into success.

Dr. Jake believes, generally, a planned side dress application is valuable. Planned applications allow you to adjust for economics and weather. For example, the early growing season often has low temperatures which slow down nitrogen mineralization and leave the corn crop vulnerable to nitrogen deficiencies. Economically nitrogen prices change throughout the year and side dressing nitrogen may or may not be a good value. Always check with your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator to learn about up to date pricing.

 

Timing Matters: V5, V9, VT

V5

Dr. Jake emphasizes the value of side dressing nutrients before V5 for a few reasons:

  1. Nutrients are limited because of slow mineralization early in the season, back to the cold soils again…
  2. Low nutrient availability and small root size means the roots often aren’t large enough to find the nutrients available. By side dressing nitrogen, you can increase your odds of keeping that plant on track to yield well.

If you are experiencing greater than normal spring rainfall, planning a V5 or before side dress nitrogen application can really benefit small corn plants. Rain can push nitrogen deeper into the soil, and the small roots are just often not large enough to keep up with the nitrogen moving through the soil profile. By V5, roots are established, facilitating nutrient uptake, including water, crucial for ongoing growth. Focusing on nutrient uptake during this phase sets the stage for effective plant development throughout maturation.

If you have low CEC soils or know you have low soil fertility because of soil tests taken, this could also be a great opportunity for side dressing. Check with your local Liqui-Grow Sales Rep to find out more!

Larson, E. (2023) V3 Growth Stage. Mississippi State Extension. https://www.mississippi-crops.com/2023/04/21/how-to-determine-corn-vegetative-growth-stages/

V9

For Dr. Jake, "in-season application" ideally occurs before V5, but certainly before V9. The old way of thinking was to get that nitrogen on right before V9, so it’s there and later in the season, but there is lots of research to debate this theory. Beyond V9, there's a risk of stunting plant growth & yield, especially with a nutrient split of 75% before or at planting and 25% after - or any ratio that is less than 75% at or before planting. Typically, Midwest soils can adequately support nutrient uptake from V9 up to VT, depending on adequate soil moisture levels. By V9 through VT, the crop is at its peak nitrogen absorption rate per day, meaning delaying application until after V9 puts the crop at a disadvantage in terms of nutrition. Even though farmers have been across the fields “a lot” in a short amount of time, delaying the side dress pass can ultimately hurt yield, keep your equipment “warmed up” and ready to go again!

If you have questions about what this means, contact a Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator, or check out this video: Is Side-Dressing Nitrogen Worth It This Year?

Nielsen, R. (2000) V9 Growing Point & V9 Whole Plant. Purdue University. https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/articles.00/Growing_Points-0510-Gallery.html

VT

Nitrogen uptake will peak at VT, and by this time the soil will provide enough nitrogen through mineralization to carry the crop, as long as adequate soil moisture is present to carry the nitrates. Late season N applications will only be beneficial in certain conditions.

The Extras - Just like mashed potatoes are good, they are better with gravy.

Side dressing nitrogen is important but with today's hybrids available to us, the potential of these hybrids, and the modern day cropping practices farmers participate in, we can see a benefit in adding some potassium and sulfur. Oftentimes these added nutrients can help combat limiting factors for plant development. Boron and zinc can even be added to your side dress mixture for additional micronutrients in your application.

Potassium (K):

Potassium is essential for various physiological processes in corn plants, including water regulation, enzyme activation and stress tolerance. While pre-plant applications are often the only recommendation for potassium, there are situations where side dressing with K can provide additional benefits, especially in fields with specific challenges.

  • Jake’s recent research trials suggest that applying potassium solely at pre-plant results in stronger crops than a 75% up front followed by a side dress of 25% ratio. However, there are times you’ll see a “bang-for-your-buck” with additional K in your side-dress application those are:
    • fields experiencing dry springs, or sandy/droughty soils
    • low and limited soil potassium levels
    • compaction issues (where roots have been limited)

Applying 10 to 15 pounds of potassium during side dressing, particularly in sandy or low-potassium soils, can help address deficiencies and promote optimal crop growth. Liqui-Grow manufactures its own 0-0-12 product to be used during the side-dress season. Just so you know, adding potassium to the tank can be tricky. It’s important to have the correct N to K ratio, and your Liqui-Grow team is knowledgeable and ready to help.

Sulfur (S):

Corn needs sulfur for proper development and over the past 10-15 years we have seen an increase in crop need for sulfur, here in the Midwest. To delve into why corn needs sulfur, check out this blog post from Jan! An extra benefit to using Sulfur in with our side dress nitrogen is its ability to act like a nitrification inhibitor, because it slows the nitrification process, leaving more nitrogen available for uptake for a longer period.

Recommended ballpark sulfur rates vary depending on crop rotation and soil type. For corn on corn, applying 20 to 25 pounds of sulfur per acre is advisable, while corn after soybeans may require 15 to 20 pounds. In sandy/droughty soils, we like to see 30 pounds regardless of crop rotation. For more specific rates tailored to your operation, give us a call!

In cool early season soils, sulfur applications can be a huge benefit to the corn crop, especially since it’s just not readily available until the soils warm up. But if your crop is on track, and the economics make sense, adding additional sulfur into your side-dressing application can result in a positive ROI for your operation. Find out more in our video: Sulfur: When is Enough, Enough?

Finishing Touches

By incorporating potassium and sulfur into your nitrogen side dressing application, you can provide your crop with the extra nourishment it needs to thrive. With the right approach, side dressing nutrients become a recipe for success in corn production.

Your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicators are happy to discuss the best option for your operation. Liqui-Grow is proud to offer

  • custom side dress applications
  • bar rentals if you prefer to do your own application and
  • high-quality products like our 20-0-4-2
  • Delivery or pick-up of product as well

We pride ourselves on being able to work with your operation, and fill your crops needs.

Questions? Give us a shout!

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Starting Strong with Starter Fertilizer

 

Do you know how the weather will shake out this spring? We don’t either, but numerous research studies have shown average U.S. corn yields increase with the addition of a starter fertilizer. Here in the Midwest we are very used to seeing all four seasons in one week, sometimes in one day– as an insurance policy against all of the elements, starter fertilizer is a great addition to your spring plan. So what does starter fertilizer provide?

In this blog, we’ll learn about the importance of starter fertilizers by understanding starter basics, when to use starter fertilizer, and what to consider while using starters.

Understanding Starter Fertilizers

Starter fertilizer is a combination of nutrients applied to the crop at or around planting. Depending on the placement of the starter fertilizer, the nutrient application consists of phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, nitrogen and zinc. Starter fertilizer can be especially helpful in environments such as:

  • no-till or reduced-till soil
  • sandy soil
  • cool soil
  • soil with low organic matter
  • soil with low P, K & other soil minerals

As we continue to plant earlier in April, these soils are oftentimes colder than the crop needs for adequate nutrient uptake. Soil nutrients are slow to mineralize in cold soils, and starter fertilizers offer crops nutrients that may not be readily available in the soil during times of unseasonably cold weather or exceptionally early planting where nutrient movement and absorption is noticeably slower. By using a starter fertilizer early in the growth cycle, you can help ensure proper root development—which is essential for successful yields. Why? Because corn has little, itty-bitty roots that can’t always reach the nutrients present in the soil. By using starter fertilizer and placing it close to those roots, it helps the crop out while it is young. Kind of like a hearty breakfast early on can jumpstart your day, a strong starter fertilizer early on can jumpstart your corn crop! Even for well-producing fields, starter fertilizer can be advantageous for yields and as Dr. Jake states, “a cheap insurance policy” to hear what else Dr. Jake says about starter fertilizer check out this liqui-grow loop: https://youtu.be/yuRvWZ27oi4?si=F9DIc8Fvvgo1sr8r

 

Why Starter Fertilizers?

Root Development

After germination, corn kernels develop two root systems. The first set of roots  developed are seminal roots, followed by nodal roots crucial for nutrient uptake. If nodal roots face stress, it can hinder nutrient absorption and overall plant growth. And when a plant’s health falls behind by two or more growth stages, it becomes very difficult for that plant to catch up, therefore hurting overall yields.

Rented Land Fertility

According to Iowa State University, about 60% of crop ground is rented land. While we know it’s possible to build soil fertility over time, short term leases can pose a risk for renting low-fertility fields, as tenants might not take as good of care of the farm as long term leases. This is another instance where starter fertilizer can bridge that gap, providing necessary nutrients for a relatively low cost with a more immediate return on investment. A great way to be aware of your soil fertility is through soil sampling– check out our last blog to learn more on soil sampling!

Photo of Tractor planting with fertilizer

 

Starter Fertilizer Considerations

The goal of any fertilizer is to feed the crop and the yield. That being said, we always want to be conscious of seed injury. When talking about starter fertilizer, we specifically want to be aware of salt injury which means some nutrients have higher salt contents and if they come in contact with your seed corn, they will injure or kill the seed. It’s very important to know what products you are using and what placement you have available on your planter. Never hold this information back when working with an ag retailer, we don’t want to give you the wrong information because we didn’t know all the pieces to the puzzle.  

6-24-6-.25 (Zn) 

6-24-6-.25 (Zn) is a seed-safe in-furrow starter fertilizer with low salt content. With the recommended three to six gallon per acre application, salt injury is uncommon. As Dr. Jake says, this is the “crown jewel of starters and an extremely successful product of Liqui-Grow.” 

4-10-10

For fields with significantly low phosphorus and potassium levels, 4-10-10 is another quality starter fertilizer option. This is an out-of-furrow fertilizer, allowing higher application rates without seed injury in the 10 to 20 gallon per acre range. Choosing a starter fertilizer can have many considerations, including soil health and even efficiency preferences—higher application rates will mean more stops to fill up.

18-3-3-3-.15 (Zn)

Another option to consider, especially for high phosphorus and potassium soils, is our 18-3-3-3-.15(Zn). This is a complete N, P, K, S, and Zn starter. Our 18-3-3-3 is an out-of-furrow fertilizer with application rates in the 15-30 gallon per acre range. This is a great option for continuous corn since it provides a readily available source of nitrogen, when we commonly see N tied up in residue. 

Talk to your Liqui-Grow sales applicators to learn more about which starter fertilizer is right for you.

To Conclude

Starter fertilizers can positively impact corn yields, especially in specific geographical regions or under certain soil conditions. In essence, starter fertilizers are like a booster shot for young corn, providing the plants with the nutrients they need to thrive during the critical early stages of growth. 

 

Questions? Give us a shout!

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Prepare for Spring: Sampling, Mapping, Planning and More!

 

Dr. Jake said it best: “Soil sampling is about tracking where you’re going,” regardless of when or how you sample. Soil sampling procedures look different from farm to farm, and even field to field. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider spring sampling:

Timing Matters

Consistency is key. Depending on your operation, you may sample soil in the fall or the spring. For the most accurate analysis, maintaining that timing is important. If you test in the fall, it is a good idea to continue to test in the fall. However, if there is a need to switch sampling seasons, spring can be advantageous. 

Logistically, having the soil information in hand from a spring sampling gives you ample time to prepare for fall fertilizer applications. By using a spring sampling schedule, you are able to better capture the fertility needs as pricing and contracting become available throughout summer and fall months. Particularly if you're considering a variable rate strategy, this will allow you to build those VRT plans based off of soil fertility recommendations. The benefit to spring sampling is being able to plan better and make more informed decisions instead of the often rushed feeling we get when trying to sample in between harvest and fieldwork in the fall- not to mention throwing the possible rain event in there, as well!  

It’s also important to know that previous crops, like corn, can also leave residue which will continue to deposit potassium into the soil over the winter. This can change your potassium levels from fall to spring and therefore would change the soil analysis over the winter, as well. This is also a good reminder that once you establish a spring sample cycle, maintain it.  

Optimizing Insights

Soil sampling is a fantastic tool to understand your soil health. One specific way to sample soil is with a grid sampling approach. This approach essentially looks at a field and makes a map of that field based on a specific grid. This can be anywhere from 10-acre grid plots down to 1-acre plots, but, most commonly, grid sampling looks at 2.5-acre plots. 

For example, a sample is taken from each 2.5-acre grid section of your field, and upon analysis, gives you a map overview of that field. This map shows a prediction of the strong and weak points of your field, allowing you to customize fertilizer application, targeting the areas that need it most. This can be especially beneficial in fields we have seen historic manure applications made. If we rely on 40 acre composite samples, we might hit a “hot spot” that would cause a misrepresentation of that field’s overall actual soil fertility. Ask your Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator for more information on this! 

While certain soil health components, like pH, may not change drastically from one grid square to the next, nutrients like phosphorus and potassium can. And unless you grid sample, you won’t know if you need variable rate application. 

Think of grid sampling like the saying, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Grid sampling allows you to identify the weakest links. 

There are many other ways to “skin this cat”, and if you are interested in soil sampling options, and what will benefit your farming operation the most, please reach out to our Liqui-Gow Sales Applicators.

Cost-Effective and Efficient

The fastest way to improve yields and return on investment from your crop is to know your soils across the farm. Variable Rate Application, or VRT, will essentially allow you to do this. We already know that grid sampling gives you a map that pinpoints areas that may need some added nutrients. Using that data, and a few other layers of information, we can create a variable rate fertilizer strategy to meet those fertility needs and improve the farm profitability.

Most of the time, variable rate can be much more cost-effective because you are applying nutrients where you need them, rather than a blanket application across every acre. You have more specific data to create a better fertilizer plan and you have a more specific application process; you’re not buying based on unknowns. 

While this may be a more in-depth process compared to other sampling and application methods, the return on investment with this individualized practice is worth it, in most cases.

Partner with the Experts

Soil sampling, in any form, is a tool designed to help you make the best decisions to improve your yields. In terms of soil sampling, Dr. Jake encourages farmers to ask themselves: “Does this make sense for this field and for my operation?” 

Dr. Jake put this video together on soil sampling, if you have more questions, check it out!
Soil Sampling – Grid Samples vs. Composite Samples. Which is Better?

 

 

With so many tools available, and so many details concerning individual field needs, the Liqui-Grow team is ready to help you make the best choice for your farm. Contact your local Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator to start the sampling process in your fields!

Questions? Give us a shout!

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Unlocking the Power of Zinc

 

Getting the small things right can make a big difference—especially when it comes to crop nutrition. 

Zinc needs for corn are relatively small, but given the right environment and nutrient blends, it can add significant yield benefits. Read on to learn more about this essential nutrient.

The Importance of Zinc

Zinc is an essential component in several enzymes required for metabolic processes in crops, including protein synthesis and growth regulation. This crucial micronutrient is largely responsible for plant development, and without it, crops would fail to thrive. Zinc is widely known for its ability to positively impact crop growth and yield productivity.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is a very common problem across the globe in agriculture. It can be caused by low levels of Zn present in the soil profile, an imbalanced fertilizer program, or even other nutrients, such as phosphorus. We know zinc is important, but what happens without it?

  • Because of its role in plant growth, signs of zinc deficiency include minimal new leaf growth, small leaf growth, curled or cupped leaves, discoloration of leaves, stunted stalk growth and overall lower yield and quality.
  • Without zinc, crops are also more susceptible to damage from temperature changes, including cold and drought conditions. Particularly in cold temperatures where mineralization within the soil slows down, crops can take up less zinc from the ground. This is especially important to consider in terms of shallow, sandy soil composition where soil cools dramatically quicker than denser soil. So as we continue to push the limits and plant earlier in the springtime, zinc deficiencies are showing up more frequently in field conditions.

The Impact of Phosphorus on Zinc

Another important factor concerning zinc is its relationship with other nutrients. Phosphorus, another vital crop nutrient, can actually tie up zinc, if not properly balanced. This imbalance can cause harm to the plant and lower yields. Phosphorus isn’t bad, we just need to make sure we use the right ratios when using it in starters to maximize the yield benefits of starter fertilizers.

In the chart below, Dr. Jake shares how several studies have indicated that applying phosphorus starter fertilizer without zinc can actually lower crop yields.

In fact, Dr. Jake saw yields increase by five to seven bushels per acre when zinc is applied. Traditional phosphorus fertilizer can actually prevent zinc uptake, therefore doing more harm than good for the plant. This is why adding zinc is crucial to starter fertilizer application. 

A well-formulated fertilizer will include zinc at a concentration level that can mitigate phosphorus interaction and produce strong, healthy crops. To learn more, or check and see if your starter fertilizer program is balanced, reach out to a Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator!  We are here to help!

Maintaining Zinc

Now that we’ve established zinc’s importance in crop development and yield optimization, let’s talk about how to maintain zinc levels. 

  • Your soil composition greatly impacts your need for zinc and affects your application strategy. As mentioned before, soil density and composition can impact zinc requirements. While temperature plays a role, conditions such as rocky or sandy soil are additional determining factors. Zinc occurs naturally in rocks, so even small rocks within the soil can be a source of zinc for crops (so don’t get too carried away when picking rocks in the field!). Being aware of soil health also means knowing when certain resources or nutrients have been depleted and will need to be replenished to maintain plant health. 

All crops require zinc, but the amount differs based on the crop, where it is growing and the balanced fertilizer applied to it. Dr. Jake has pinpointed where corn responsiveness would be maximized in terms of zinc application, but other crop varieties will differ.

  • Be aware of the signs of deficiency and, in rare cases, toxicity. The ability to identify problems early on means you can properly address the issue and continue growing a strong, healthy and high-yielding crop. Zinc is especially vital during the early stages of plant growth, so be proactive and scout early to set your fields up for success.  

 

If you’re interested in learning more about zinc use in your crop, check out this Liqui-Grow Loop video. 

Want to learn more about Dr. Jake’s research? Check out this overview or watch his 2023 research results summary. 

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKECU92VdbU

Questions? Give us a shout! 

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

Unlock the Next Level of Your Production

Sign-up for both Virtual and In-Person Events

Looking for something to help make winter go by a little faster? How about taking a few hours to absorb the experience, knowledge and intellect of experts in the field - to get the most into and out of your fields. 

Join the Liqui-Grow team of experts and some of our highly regarded colleagues in the industry on Tuesday, February 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (with lunch to follow) at the Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center. We’ll have a morning of learning and networking at the L.E.A.D. Academy Winter Series. This in-person event will showcase industry experts to cover the latest in agronomy, crop and nutrient management and production strategies. 

What to Expect

  • Agronomic education from industry experts in research, grain marketing and crop production
  • Networking with fellow producers from multi-state locations.
  • Engaging Q&A sessions with speakers
  • Top agronomic strategies for a profitable 2024

 

The Information You Will Gain

  • Seed Varieties to Achieve Top Yields

What does it take to get that box of seed to your farm? How do we get those lines ready for your planting? Our seed and innovation departments will share upcoming 2024 information with our customer base.

  • Profitable Grain Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore!

Store and ignore or market and sell? Grain marketing decisions are a constant challenge for farmers. That's why we're bringing in Curt Strubhar, commercial merchandising consultant and chairman of Advance Trading, Inc., to share insights from his decades of experience in risk management to help you make profitable decisions this season.

  • How Ethanol is Paving the Future for Profitable Corn Production

Join our Ethanol Tax Incentive breakout to hear experts Dr. Bert Bock and Dave Miller talk about SAF incentives and policy coming down the pipeline. Hear how your farming operation can benefit from SAF and ask the panel questions during an exclusive Q & A.

  • 2024 Crop Input Highlights 

Dr. Jake Vossenkemper will be revisiting his 2023 research and sharing what products he saw consistent increased yields and plant health. These are products available to you as farmers to use in the 2024 season! Plus, hear what’s on his radar for the near future and products you could be using and trying on your farms.

  • The Micronutrients You Didn’t Know Your Crops Needed

We hear about nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium all the time, but what about the other nutrients needed to grow a healthy crop? Dr. Jake will share why we need more nutrients these days, and why our crops are benefiting from the additional fertilizers.

 

Besides gaining a breadth of knowledge from our industry experts, and being able to chat it up with them and other growers, we have some great giveaways—including a shop fridge. So call a buddy and register today for this FREE event! Seating is limited, so don’t wait, and we’ll see you there! 

Click here to Register 

The Story Behind Sulfur: Why nutrient deficiencies are becoming more common

 

You hear about N, P and K often, but those aren’t the only essential nutrients you need to grow a healthy crop. Sulfur is the nutrient behind most service calls Dr. Jake receives each year. 

First, it’s important to understand sulfur’s function in the plant. Here are the highlights:

  • Sulfur plays an important role in protein synthesis, which is at the root of nearly all plant development, no pun intended.  
  • Sulfur is heavily involved in chlorophyll production, which is key for photosynthesis. Remember photosynthesis is the process of converting sunlight into energy the plant can use.  
  • Because of its enzyme formation abilities, sulfur works in harmony with other biochemical reactions in the plant, such as nitrogen metabolism.  What we’re saying is there is a synergistic relationship between nitrogen and sulfur.
  • As with most nutrients, sulfur improves nutrient uptake, plant structure, disease resistance and crop yield and quality, basically the plant needs it to function.

But if sulfur is so important, why are there such frequent deficiencies? Dr. Jake believes there are a couple reasons. 

First, corn yields have increased dramatically since the 1950s—and with increased yields comes an increased nutrient requirement, depleting fields of their sulfur.  Think of your high school kids and how much they eat because they are growing.  We need to feed these plants what they really require.   

Graph of US corn grain yield trends since 1866

Second, the 1970s Clean Air Act mandated reduced sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere, the primary source of sulfur for crops. For comparison, in 1986, an average of 15 pounds per acre of atmospheric sulfate deposition was common. In 2021, that level dropped to just three pounds per acre, leaving a significant gap in nutrition. These two primary factors have instigated in many the search for a new sulfur source with a large quantity to support plant growth.

Diagnosing Deficiency

A sulfur deficiency is not as easy to detect as one might expect. In corn and depending on what growth stage the crop is, it can imitate nitrogen or even manganese or magnesium deficiencies. 

The primary sign to keep an eye out for is lighter green or yellowing tops of plants. Nitrogen deficiency causes plants to yellow from the base of the crop upward, whereas signs of sulfur deficiency start in the areas of new growth and move down.

But the real question is, “Can sulfur deficiency be corrected?” 

 

 

Managing Sulfur Levels

In short, yes. Naturally, your first instinct when noticing a lack of sulfur may be to simply add more sulfur through a fertilizer application. While yes, this certainly helps, it may not be needed right away. Typically, soil mineralizes more sulfur as it warms, and with warmer soils to mineralize nutrients, the deficiency can resolve itself. 

However, sulfur applications can have positive yield impacts, whether in the fall or spring. See Dr. Jake’s research findings below:

If you are considering a supplemental sulfur application, make sure you’re selecting the right source for your fields. Check out this Liqui-Grow Loop video or contact your Liqui-Grow Sales rep to understand the different types of sulfur and which perform best based on our research.

 

If the deficiency is resolved early enough, the crop may fully recover and see no yield loss. When deficiency reaches the V7-V8 stages, however, expect to see an impact during harvest. There is no 100% guarantee you will or will not see yield losses from sulfur deficiency, but these crop stage guidelines serve as a good rule of thumb.

Whether you're familiar with sulfur deficiencies or just curious about boosting your crops with this nutrient, there's a whole lot more to explore.

Watch our full breakdown from our 2023 L.E.A.D. Academy to find out more about sulfur, including how to monitor and manage this nutrient in soybeans, the yield changes Dr. Jake has observed from sulfur application and more. 

Plus, register for our 2024 L.E.A.D. Academy Winter Series for an exclusive session on The Micronutrients You Didn’t Know Your Crop Needed.

Or check out these resources for more information:

2023: Year In Review

 

As we bid farewell to 2023, we’re reflecting on the achievements, challenges and business success we’ve experienced as we work to bring you the highest quality service and products for your operation. 

Major Achievement: Launching ExactStrip

A major highlight of 2023 was doubling the number of acres we applied using ExactStrip, which was first offered in 2022. On top of that, Dr. Jake has completed his research of this technology and we’re satisfied with the results! We’ve heard positive feedback for this innovative solution ever since the initial launch and are looking forward to 2024.

“I was sort of a guinea pig for ExactStrip, and I’m glad I was! There was a phenomenal visual difference the entire season season and when it got to harvest there was considerably more yield with the ExactStrip application”

Navigating Challenges

The business and our growers faced challenges, particularly in supply and demand dynamics post-COVID. Liqui-Grow worked tirelessly to ensure that our customers didn't bear the brunt of these challenges. This resilience will continue to expand and reward customers in 2024, with improved supply resulting in lower costs for many inputs.

Grower Success Amidst Adversity

Despite facing a challenging drought year, our dedicated growers who trusted our recommendations still achieved high yields. New hybrids and cutting-edge technology played a pivotal role in helping them weather the tough conditions, showcasing the vital role that Liqui-Grow's products and service play in supporting farming operations throughout our trade territory.

Internship Program Flourishes

Our commitment to nurturing talent continued through our internship program, which welcomed seven interns in 2023! These young minds brought fresh perspectives and helped drive our research and sales efforts, fostering a culture of innovation within Liqui-Grow. We’re proud to support the growth of young individuals interested in agriculture. In 2024 we’re making improvements to enhance the learning experience. Contact our Davenport office for information about a future internship.

Growing the Liqui-Grow Family

The company expanded its workforce in 2023, adding 15 new full-time employees to the team. Additionally, we celebrated the arrival of 5 team members' babies

Empowering Communities

Beyond the fields, Liqui-Grow continued its tradition of giving back to the communities we serve. Through sponsorships and donations, we empowered local initiatives and organizations, emphasizing our role not just as an agricultural company, but as a community-focused organization dedicated to the well-being of our small towns. Please contact the Davenport office for donation/sponsorship inquiries. 

As we look back on 2023, Liqui-Grow takes pride in the strides made, the challenges overcome and the positive impact created. The year reaffirmed our commitment to excellence, innovation and community empowerment, setting the stage for even greater achievements in the years to come.

To learn more about Liqui-Grow our goals for 2024, text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

 

How to Get the Best Pricing for 2024 Crop Inputs

 

The saying “the early bird gets the worm” is applicable to more than robins and blue jays. In fact, when it comes to crop protection inputs, if you’re not early you may not get a worm at all.

As we gear up for our 2024 pre-pay season, we’d like to offer some key insights that we foresee in next year’s supply inventory and help you prepare to take advantage of the best time to purchase your inputs.

What’s new?

The supply chain for crop protection products took a major hit following the pandemic in 2020. Those issues lingered into 2021 and 2022, tightening available inventory and creating challenges for delivering secured product. Thankfully, 2023 held a better outcome and 2024 looks to continue on the upward trajectory for more products.

Let’s look at the forecast for product inventory:

    • Glyphosate products like RoundUp are in great supply. This product has rebounded since 2020 and is even experiencing up to a 40% price reduction on certain products. Contact your Liqui-Grow sales representative to learn which products have the best prices.
    • Post-emergence grass killers for corn and soybeans have a good supply and have seen a price reduction. These will be a great addition for growers trying to control volunteer corn in soybean fields. .
    • For the first time since 2020, fungicides will be in good supply from Liqui-Grow. However, most of the inventory will be booked by February 15th as growers see the value in these products for overall plant health. We will be offering a significant discount during pre-pay season and encourage growers to place their order early to guarantee product availability.
  • Pre-emergence products for soybeans will have some product changes and we encourage you to ask your local Liqui-Grow sales representative what new products are best for your operation.

Pricing will likely still play a role in product selection this year, but the trends are looking favorable for growers, if you make your purchases during the pre-pay window.

Planning Ahead Pays

Each year, we encourage growers to consider new ways to increase yield and reduce input cost. The best way to accomplish that is by taking advantage of the best pricing window of the year. 

At Liqui-Grow, we devote time to researching and securing the best products on the market to give our customers ample choices for their operation. In fact, that makes us different from most ag retailers. We don’t come to your farm with a preferred list of products - we provide the products that you ask for to meet your goals. 

This personalized mindset is also the driving force behind our service lineup. Whether you want herbicides and fungicides custom applied on your operation or just need the products packaged and ready for pickup, we can support your crop protection needs. 

We also offer “hot loads” for growers who use their own application equipment but need chemicals mixed at a moment’s notice. When you’re ready to load, give us a call and the mixture will be ready when you arrive!

But the bottom line when it comes to having a successful customer experience at Liqui-Grow is to take advantage of this pre-pay season to book the best products at the best price. 

Buying now is truly the only guaranteed way to secure your product for next year. Plus, if the weather changes and you have to adjust your plan midway through the season, we’ll work with you to ensure you have the product you need for your crop.

Growers concerned about cashflow can also utilize Liqui-Grow financing options as long as you lock in your pricing by January 10th. Terms with all financing options have changed for the 2024 season, so consult your Liqui-Grow sales representative for the current rates and payment options. 

For more questions around product options, availability or pricing, text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.