Balancing Nutritional Needs with Crop Input Prices

by Amelia Siroky

SPONSORED- As fertilizer costs spiked alongside near record high commodity prices for corn, cotton, soybeans, rice and wheat, farmers across the country found themselves in a balancing act. The dilemma was how to effectively manage fertilizer dollars without negatively impacting yield. Now, as more crops are planted, farmers are looking ahead and wondering how their decisions will play out. Derek Emerine, National Agronomist with Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, advises farmers to start monitoring their crops for deficiencies as soon as possible.

“We typically recommend tissue sampling just prior to reproduction when nutrient demand really starts to ramp up,” says Emerine. “However, if you had to cut back on your traditional fertilizer applications this season, I recommend pulling those samples earlier to see where you stand. The earlier we catch those deficiencies, the sooner we can correct them with foliar fertilizers or supplemental nutritionals.”

Emerine explains there’s a higher potential for nutrient deficiencies this year due to changing fertilization practices as a result of inflation. Although in-season applications will never replace dry or liquid commodity fertilizers applied in the fall or spring, they can boost nutrient levels at key growth stages to reduce negative yield impacts.


Extractor® is Helena’s advanced tissue analysis system. It gives farmers what Emerine describes as a “report card” on plant health. It grades the level of key nutrients in the plant and provides recommendations when they are too low. While input costs remain elevated, Extractor can help growers prioritize nutrients and determine where they can afford to make adjustments. Over multiple decades and thousands of tissue samples, Helena’s historical data shows there are six nutrients consistently low in test results: 1) potassium, 2) zinc, 3) nitrogen, 4) sulfur, 5) magnesium and 6) boron. Click here to learn more about how these nutrients impact plant growth and to view product recommendations.

With the help of Extractor tissue sampling and Helena’s experienced agronomists around the country, farmers can take proactive steps to ensure their crops have the nutrients they need throughout the season. To get started on your farm, contact your local Helena representative today.

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