KANSAS CITY, Mo— 2016 planting is here, but commodity prices are still low.

Farmers are looking for ways to get the best return on their crops, and many are considering cutting costs in their management plans. The vice president of program development and agriculture at The Sulphur Institute, Don Messick, talks about options for a strong 2016 growing season.         dreamstime_24730960_machine_fumigating

“Well it’s easy to drop back on costs, such as fertilizer but let’s be cautious,” explains Messick, “You may be running the risk of reducing fertilizer efficiency. For corn, nitrogen is our biggest cost input on the fertilizer side so we want to make sure we have a balanced fertilizer program. Ask yourself, is the Phosphorus adequate… what about Potassium and Sulphur as well.”

All farmers want to keep nutrient levels in their fields at a productive rate, but it’s not always easy to maintain balance. He explains what farmers should look for to know if they have a deficiency.

“This is a challenge,” Messick expressed, “Unfortunately, Sulphur deficiencies often look like nitrogen deficiencies. There is a difference in the text book definition of where we see it on the plant but when you have corn growing in the early stages, lots of times we just see yellow corn. So, the best way to do it is a tissue test.”

Messick said the processes of getting a tissue test, getting the results back, and making a corrective application if it is Sulphur, is a challenge. He noted if you feel that you’ve met your nitrogen deficiencies and are still seeing yellow corn, it may very well be Sulphur.

When farmers compare their inputs to their yields, they want to see monetary value. Most farmers know the benefit of fertilizers but it’s important for them to see a return on the cost of their inputs at the end of the growing season. Messick stated Sulphur helps to improve fertilizer efficiency and overall yield.

“You want to address the nutrient that’s most limiting production.” Messick said, “After meeting Phosphorus and Potassium requirements, for example, then consider your Sulphur. It doesn’t require a large input but the effect can be profound. We are talking about putting in Nitrogen and it being an expensive input but with Sulphur mostly 15-30 pounds per acre will address most deficiencies. So, it’s not a major cost input but the yield increases can be substantial.”

Considering that, Sulphur can improve yield and quality in a variety of crops, farmers may be more inclined to address deficiencies in their fields. He adds what Sulphur fertilizer options are available.

“There are over 20 different, commercially available Sulphur tuning fertilizers out there.” Messick explained, “So if it becomes a challenge for the grower to determine exactly what meets his needs, you could talk to an extension agent, you could talk to a local agronomist, but there is a diverse opportunity to correct the deficiencies.”

Learn more online at www.SulphurInstitute.org.