Spring weather can be volatile and make or break the start of the growing season, so a solid crop nutrition plan is vital to give crops everything they need for the best possible start.
Work with your local retailer and certified crop advisor to develop a crop plan, and talk with them about any buying decisions as early as possible to ensure they have appropriate inputs available.
“It’s important to ensure your retailer, equipment and people are prepared to act quickly when the time is right to apply crop nutrients,” said Dr. Ross Bender, senior agronomist for The Mosaic Company.
Take into account these considerations for spring fertilizer application and early-season crop nutrition best practices:
Revisit your most recent soil test with fresh eyes, and set your sights on an appropriate yield target. Or consider conducting a soil test if you haven’t recently and have time before planting.
Apply fertilizer before tillage to help improve soil incorporation.
If you have sandy, coarse-textured soils, or if you’re applying soluble forms of nitrogen and sulfur, a spring application is particularly beneficial.
Wet, saturated conditions will benefit from locally placed/banded phosphorus fertilizer. This is likely a good option if planting infrastructure and financial resources permit.
Keep an eye on mobile nutrients including nitrate nitrogen, sulfate, boron, chloride — which are primarily found 12 to 24 inches into the soil — to ensure they’re properly balanced.
“Given the unpredictable nature of weather, it is critical that growers and retailers use fertilizer sources that provide the most flexible application opportunities,” Dr. Bender stressed. “The closer you can ensure nutrient availability to the plant when it needs them, regardless of application timing, the better the recovery efficiency and ROI.”
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to apply in the spring, MicroEssentials®, a phosphate-based fertilizer, is recommended because of its two forms of sulfur: sulfate sulfur — which is immediately available and can get plants off to a good start — plus elemental sulfur, which oxidizes over time and provides plant-available sulfur during later growth stages.