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The chelate ‘shortage’ is stressing me out!

Field of small soybean plants. 1540x800
A key crop input appears to be in short supply this spring.

Next Level is a three-year program designed to help farmers learn better growing techniques from two corn yield champions, Randy Dowdy and David Hulu. We are hosting one of the Next Level farm camps and as a service to the members we ended up running a buyer’s group.

Activity has been hot and heavy this week. Growers are making final decisions for the early portion of their 2021 crop needs.

We have our fertilizer and pesticide dealer license. We mostly deal in plant and soil nutrition products. Unfortunately we have discovered there is a shortage of chelate, which can help eradicate iron deficiency in crops.

There are several different types of chelate, but the shortage seems to be focused around EDTA chelate.

What is it?

Chelates are mainly found in micronutrients. There are a couple of purposes of a chelate: First it protects the nutrient from being bound up in the mixture being applied and also in the soil. Second it allows for a broad range of tank mix uses, without the nutrient salting out or turning into gooey mess.

How a shortage happens, nobody has been able to tell me. I have learned that some of the acid comes from China. I’ve had multiple manufacturers this week tell me they have been promised product, but have no idea when it will show up. Some manufactures are positioned better than others with product on the floor. However, with year-over-year increases, we may quickly exceed our allocation.

A few vendors have been taking advantage of the situation. They have product on the floor, and are determined they are going to profit from it. We are trying to cover member needs without using these outlets.

So, if you didn’t take action last time when I mentioned this shortage, you probably should. Right now it’s not feeling like this is a case of having a price increase, it feels like there are situations where you will not be able to get product (or at least on the timetable you need it).

Hopefully this settles down as we get closer to summer, or we will be considering different types of products to get the job done.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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