Spring fertilizer planning

November 27, 2020
Todd Dysle, CHS crop nutrients expert, explains why winter is the best time to talk with your cooperative about fertilizer needs.

The 2020 harvest season was one of the best fall application periods U.S. farmers have seen in years. And with many countries expanding production of potash, phosphates and nitrogen, there will be ample supplies of crop nutrients for U.S. crops in 2021. 

“The good news is there isn’t a fertilizer shortage ahead of us,” says Todd Dysle, CHS crop nutrients expert, “but to ensure farmers will have what they need for next spring, they should be talking to their local cooperatives and agronomists about crop nutrient planning this winter.” Dysle suggests the following tips to help guide conversations for spring fertilizer planning. 

Conduct soil tests. “One of the first things growers should do is to make sure they have a current soil test, so they’re not guessing crop nutrient needs. Examining soil test results closely can help farmers prioritize what they need to spend money on to help meet crop yield goals.”

Check current fertilizer supply and prices. “Growers should refer to the fertilizer affordability index, which is a comparison of crop nutrients to grain prices, then ask themselves how many bushels of grain it will take to buy a ton of fertilizer. Current crop nutrient values today are all below the 10-year average when compared to new crop grain. Growers can do their own local comparisons, but in most cases, it is an opportune time to build up soil nutrient levels.”

Communicate early. “As soon as planting intentions are set, start talking about spring fertilizer planning. I often say there is no crop nutrients shortage – only a shortage of good discussion. Make sure your local cooperative or agronomist know what you need for spring.”