COLFAX, Wash. — Widespread zinc deficiency in Pacific Northwest soils is driving perpetually zinc-deficient seed stock in the region. As a result, many crops produced and grown in the PNW are suffering from loss of speed and vigor at emergence — and, in turn, farmers are losing a surprising 3.5-4 bushels per acre every year.
While most now recognize that zinc is widely deficient in the soil profile, the larger issue still remains. “If the soil is deficient, then the resulting seed stock being produced is going to be deficient as well,” explains Logan Redden, Seed Care Account Manager with The McGregor Company. “Without seed-applied micronutrients, no matter where we plant it back, the seed is going to be deficient.”
As the main component in the plant growth hormone, Auxin, zinc is not only critical for plant health early in the plant’s life — it is required to initiate and stimulate germination.
“Think of zinc as a forklift moving sugars to the plant embryo,” says Cat Salois, Director of Research and Technology for The McGregor Company. “Without access to zinc at the time of germination, sugars can’t cross the membrane layers to the embryo. The consequence of this is weakened stands and slower emergence.”
But not all zinc products are created equal when it comes to delivering performance as a seed treatment. The most common forms — zinc EDTA, zinc oxide, and zinc sulfate — each impact the plant differently. Salois notes that “Roughly 70% of the zinc required by cereal grains is demanded within the first 30 days of life.”
The best solution to zinc deficiency therefore lies in giving the plant immediate access to zinc at the time of germination. Undeniably, research shows that the slow-release nature of an EDTA chelated nutrient is not the appropriate tool to meet this large early demand. EDTA products such as StepUp and Pro-Ceed are “late to the party,” says John Hobson, Director of Seed Care at The McGregor Company. “EDTA chelated nutrients are designed to be accessible in small amounts over the growing season and cannot supply a large peak demand.”
Instead, recent research points to zinc oxide as the superior seed-applied nutrition source. New MicroFuze Technology, found exclusively in SeedStart Zinc, delivers zinc oxide particles at such an advanced level that “the nutrient accessibility is significantly enhanced,” says Jamie Slocum, Seed Care Account Manager with The McGregor Company. “Immediate access to zinc at the time of germination promotes rapid emergence and root development, which leads to earlier access to the additional nutrient package placed below ground, and gives the plant a 1-2 punch at nutrient availability to carry through the plant life.”
Independent studies have proven SeedStart Zinc to consistently have a superior plant uptake efficiency during the first few weeks of life compared to both EDTA and zinc sulfate. SeedStart Zinc with MicroFuze Technology “allows the zinc particles to more densely affix directly on the seed, and thus be more readily available at the time of germination,” explains Salois.
In addition, EDTA zinc delivers 83% less zinc per pound than SeedStart Zinc — and at an average increased cost of $18 per pound of zinc. In essence, growers using seed treated with any zinc form other than SeedStart with MicroFuze Technology are paying more for less performance.
Not all zinc products are designed to deliver performance on the seed piece and choosing the right zinc product to accomplish this task is critical. SeedStart Zinc is intentionally designed to optimize nutrient availability by adequately placing zinc nutrition at the right time and in the right place to optimize efficiencies for both the farmer and the plant. Powered by unique MicroFuze Technology, SeedStart Zinc is the only seed-applied zinc nutrition that is readily accessible at germination, proven through research, and loaded with nearly 6X more zinc. For additional information on superior seed care, visit www.mcgregor.com or contact (509) 397-4355.