Flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers should not disrupt fertilizer supplies for spring field applications, according to Dan Froelich, agronomist, Mosaic Company.
“The dealer warehouses are full because growers haven’t been able to apply fertilizer,” Froelich says. And now that the application window continues to shorten, he doesn’t anticipate extra product will be needed.
Instead, dealers who stocked up on fertilizer in anticipation of more corn acres and an extended spring are now talking about carryover. Froelich says dealers probably have on hand 85 to 90% of fertilizer needs for the Midwest.
The concern now is the fertilizer that won’t be applied. Froelich says as planting gets delayed, more growers will skip fertilizer application, particularly application of phosphorus and potassium. These two nutrients are already at minimal levels. Lower soil nutrient levels started a few years ago when fertilizer prices were high. Growers skipped P and K to cut costs, and as a result, fertility levels dropped and have not been restored. Corn yields will be affected if fertility continues to drop.
On the other hand, nitrogen applications made last fall should still be available. Froehlich says the cooler temperatures have prevented nitrogen losses.
There’s also still time for growers to make a spring N application ahead of planting. “If growers can get in the field by next week, most should still put on the fertilizer they intended to put on,” Froelich says. But if they delay fieldwork beyond that, they will not apply fertilizer to some fields. Froelich hopes that growers will look at fertility levels when deciding which field should forego the fertilizer.
If fields are flooded, growers should stick to their same fertilizer plan unless they are concerned that soil microbes are killed. In that case, Froelich suggests using a starter fertilizer.
The outlook for a good crop is still strong. “Farmers and dealers are still optimistic,” he adds. “It’s not real late. We found last year that some of the latest planted crops were the best. The crops will grow fast.”