Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

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    Sulfur and Zinc: The Unsung Heroes of Soil Fertility

    December 06, 2018

    Posted by Mike Smith in Crop Management

    During harvest, nutrients that are necessary to the vitality of a crop are removed from the soil. We’re all familiar with potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous and how they’re essential ingredients for crops to flourish. However, they aren’t the only valuable nutrients that contribute to soil fertility. Let’s talk a bit about the unsung heroes of soil fertility — sulfur and zinc.

    Sulfur is considered the fourth major nutrient in crop production and is necessary for protein synthesis in a plant. Protein synthesis, when supported by sulfur, promotes plant vitality and development, including pollen development. Most sulfur in the soil is located in the organic matter and cannot be taken up by the plant until mineralization, which is when sulfur is converted to sulfate, or SO4-2, by bacteria in the soil. Sulfate is mobile and, in many cases, acts like nitrogen, which is why it’s recommended to apply sulfate at the same time as nitrogen. Sulfur deficiency even mimics nitrogen deficiency, resulting in yellowing of leaves.

    Sulfur deficiency is generally a result of a few events.

    Harvest: It is estimated that harvest removes approximately .1 of 1 pound of sulfur per bushel of corn and .17 of 1 pound per bushel  of soybeans.

    Deposition: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere means less sulfur dioxide is deposited back into the soil. This situation is largely in part because of the increased restrictions on these emissions.

    Soil matter: Soil makeup may affect the availability of sulfur. Mineralization, the conversion of sulfur to sulfate, occurs only when organic material in the soil exists — organic material decomposes and encourages mineralization. If mineralization does not occur because of lack of organic material in the soil, then sulfur becomes immobile, resulting in sulfur deficiency.

    Zinc plays a critical role in plant growth. In fact, without zinc, the enzymes that are responsible for plant development would not be able to complete their metabolic reactions in the plant, which would stop the growing process. Zinc is responsible for transporting calcium through the plant and is necessary for the production of chlorophyll and carbohydrate metabolism. When there’s a lack of zinc in the soil, leaves begin to yellow and eventually turn a bronze color.

    Zinc deficiency is usually caused by one of a few different factors.  

    Harvest: Whether it was simply used up by last year’s crop, removed from the top soil during combining or compacted in the soil by heavy equipment, harvest can play a factor in diminishing zinc from soil. We recommend soil sampling in fall to detect for nutrient deficiencies, including zinc, especially in areas that generated high crop yields in 2018.  

    Soil type: The type of soil can also affect zinc prevalence. Because zinc is a natural element that emits from rocks, areas where there are sodic or calcareous soils may already be equipped with the proper amounts of zinc. Sandy soils or soils containing low organic matter may benefit greatly from increased zinc applications. High pH levels in the soil may also inhibit the presence of zinc, and cold soils in the spring limit uptake of the nutrient. The more you know about the levels of zinc in your soil, the better off you’ll be come spring.

    Previous nutrient applications: Other nutrient applications can affect the production of zinc. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, there is a direct relationship between phosphorus and zinc, where large levels of phosphate can antagonize the micronutrient, resulting in zinc deficiency and, eventually, yield loss.

    Application Recommendations
    Both of these critical nutrients can be deficient within a plant because of unavailability within the soil biosphere. We recommend .10 pounds of sulfur per bushel of corn and .17 for soybeans. For example, for 200 bushel per acre corn, this would require about 200 plus pounds of nitrogen and 20 pounds of sulfur per bushel. Zinc should be added with a pre-plant fertilizer according to soil tests and crop removal rates. The key to any proper fertility plan is balance.

    If one nutrient level is too high, another nutrient in comparison will be too low. Make sure you have a well-rounded fertility program in place that understands the unique characteristics of your individual soil’s composition and how to best manage both its strengths and weaknesses.

    Additional Resources

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    Stine® to Host the 2018 Professional Farmer Series in December

    November 28, 2018

    Posted by Stine Seed in Stine News

    Stine® is excited to host a series of special educational events for our customers in December — our first-ever Professional Farmer Series. These meetings will provide attendees an in-depth look at Stine’s testing and development program and a first-hand look at the 2018 results from Stine’s Elite testing program. Attendees will also hear from Stine leadership and industry experts about market trends and learn about some of our most promising corn and soybean products for 2019. Several outside companies that are focused on delivering the ag solutions of tomorrow will also be on hand.

    The full lineup of events and agenda topics follow.  


    December 3 — Doubletree by Hilton Downtown St. Paul/St. Paul, MN
    December 5 — Argosy Casino / Riverside/Kansas City, MO
    December 10 — Doubletree by Hilton/Bloomington, IL
    December 12 — Renaissance North Indianapolis/Carmel, IN


    • 2019 Outlook — John Deere Financial
    • Understanding Stine’s Elite Yield Testing Program
    • Key Stine Hybrids For 2019
    • Understanding the Soybean Herbicide Trait Platforms
    • LibertyLink® GT27™: Industry-first Glyphosate & Glufosinate Tolerant Soybean
    • New/Emerging Technologies. Potential presenters/topics include:
      • Rantizo (UAV herbicide application system)
      • SIMPAS (in-furrow multi-application system)
      • SmartAg (autonomous equipment)
      • My Yield/Quality Plus (on-demand seed treatment)

    All meetings will begin at 1 p.m. local time and conclude with a social hour and reception from 6–8 p.m. If you’re a grower and are interested in registering for an event near you, we encourage you to visit our website for more information.

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    A Time to Reflect

    November 20, 2018

    Posted by Stine Seed in Stine News

    There is always something to be thankful for, and at Stine®, it’s a principle we never forget. We are thankful 365 days a year for our supportive families, loyal customers and hard-working employees who all contribute to our success. While we try to express our gratitude as often as we can, we also promise to show you our appreciation year-round by offering personalized customer service, product discounts, high-yielding genetics, flexibility and choice for your operations.  

    This Thanksgiving, we’d like to wish you and your families good health, abundant happiness and holidays filled with warmth and delicious food raised by the farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to feed the world.

    “I am most thankful for a little time spent with family and friends over the holiday weekend. It gives me time to reflect on a busy but successful year and make some new memories, especially with my wife and three kids.” — Tony Lenz, Stine Region 3 RSA 

    “I am so thankful to live in a free, prosperous country and for all of my ancestors and military personnel who fought to preserve this great nation for all of us. We live in such a beautiful country with soils so rich that you can grow all sorts of wonderful crops. I am thankful for all my blessings each and every day that my Heavenly Father has bestowed on my posterity.” — Kip Featherston, Stine Region 17 RSA

    “I am most thankful for health, happiness, friends, family and the amazing life God gave me. I’m also thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the ones to come.” — Bethany Oland, Stine Region 7 RSA

    “Thanksgiving for me is a time to reflect on Thanksgivings from childhood days to the present and to future Thanksgivings as new family members continue to arrive. I am thankful for family, friends and all the blessings time has given me.” — Kevin Ryan, Stine Region 14 RSA

    “I am thankful for all the small blessings we are given and take for granted each day. I am blessed with a great family: Grace, Blake and my wife Jenny. I am blessed with an unbelievable group of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and countless others who support and give my family the ability to do everything we do. I am blessed with the opportunities and support Stine has given me that allows me to do the work I enjoy. I am truly thankful for all the small blessings each day that God, my family and the people at Stine give me.” — Bill Kessinger, Stine Region 16 RSA

    “I’m so thankful for my wife of 31 years. We’re blessed with three wonderful kids and their spouses, two wonderful grandkids, who I can’t see often enough, and I’m thankful to work at a great company.” — Mike Eckels, Stine Region 8 RSA

    “This season, I am thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. I look forward to spending time with my immediate family this holiday season. My life is very blessed and I am very thankful for that. — Dustin Ellis, Stine Region 6 RSA

    “I am thankful first and foremost for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful for my wife Amanda and my kids Cooper and Molly. I am also thankful for the opportunity to work in the ag industry. Especially at a time when there are so many new and innovative products available. Happy Thanksgiving!” — Aaron Stockton, Stine Region 9 RSA

    "This year, I am especially thankful for my family and loved ones. Between the kids' wrestling and basketball tournaments, our lives are busy and fun filled. I’m thankful for Stine and all of the farmers I get to work with, as well as my great team." — Justin Oden, Stine Region 1 RSA

    “I’m thankful to be back in the Midwest and close to family. After living in Massachusetts for 11 years, it was hard to make it home for many holidays or family gatherings. I used to complain about having to drive everywhere during the holidays to this dinner or that dinner, but now I couldn’t be happier to be close enough to family and friends.” — Kevin Krabel, Stine Region 15 RSA

    From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!