Welcome to the Ultra Gro Agronomy Letter!
Similar to last year, we'd like to start this letter by thanking and honoring all of the Veterans, active service people and their families that have chosen to serve and protect our country as we celebrate Memorial Day. This holiday honors all of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you and God bless.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy 

"As we set today aside to honor and thank our veterans, let us be mindful that we should do this every day of the year and not just one."  - Beth Pennington

"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." - Adlai Stevenson II
This is not the year of “Business as usual

With extremely expensive water and inputs, we have been working hard to come up with ways to help our growers save money. Efficient irrigation is at the top of the list and using less fertilizer and/or the “right” fertilizer follows closely behind. Here are some tips from our team that may stimulate a conversation and generate an idea or two to use on your farm…
Short Irrigation Sets
by Rich Kreps, CCA and Ultra Gro Partner
It’s that time of the year.  It’s hot.  Here’s some food for thought.  Save some money and make your water go further.  Can you irrigate at night, more often?  Can you break your longer irrigation sets up into a series of short ones?  Let’s say you are typically running a 48 hour set.  What if you ran (3) 12 hour sets per week on an every other day schedule.  One week its 4 sets and the next week it’s three.  All in, that’s 48 hours one week and 36 hours the next.  That saves you 12 hours every two weeks on electrical costs and saves almost a half a foot of water over the course of a season.

And the benefits go so much further in terms of the agronomy.  48-hour straight sets put your roots into two days of anaerobic conditions every week, lessening plant health and root uptake.  It also brings havoc to your microbiology by creating a good environment for the bad guys and a bad environment for the good soil health biology.  Smaller shots more often can play a major role in soil health…

  • Small shots more often give you more opportunity to dial in your nutrition, 
  • Spread out your nutrient load using multiple nutrient derivatives, 
  • Keep nutrition in the root zone longer and not push nutrients thru the profile, 
  • Re-wet those roots more frequently…create more aerobic conditions,
  • Manage salts, keep the deep moisture from subbing up, 
  • Greatly reduce periods of stress from longer dry periods.  

We realize that changing irrigation practices is not easy and every farm has a different set of issues attached to every field/pumpsite/irrigation set.  We highlight some of these benefits in the hope that you can bring increased field health to your farming operations. Your crops will thank you for it and the ROI can be significant.
Getting the "Rec" Right
by Tom Oliveira, Crop Advisor
We are trying today, more than ever, to make the smartest decisions that we can. Using soil analysis is one tool we use in making good decisions. If we make the right decisions, we can save money for our growers.  

One example of this process that we commonly encounter is a soil sample that shows plenty of nutrients in the analysis and then we base a recommendation on that information.  Sounds logical, right?  Well…maybe.  At UG, we usually run a water extraction ratio as part of the soil test and we can find out which nutrients are actually showing up in the nutrient solution that is actually getting into the roots. And that’s not always the same as the simple nutrient analysis that shows up in the soil tests.  Knowing this information, often changes or tweaks our recommendations and helps us get it right.  Typically, we then go forward and either; 1. apply a product(s) that will mine your soil and make your existing nutrients more available (often very cost-effective!), or, 2. we spoon-feed a highly soluble nutrient that will be taken up without getting tied up with other pre-existing nutrients.  

Bottom line: if we get the Rec right, we saved you money.
Five More Ideas to Help you Stretch the Budget
We went around the room and asked all of our Crop Advisors to come up with additional ideas to help our growers stretch budgets.  Here is some food for thought…

  • Use less fertilizer- Use Acidifier, Soil Treatment, Thio Plex and other products to mine the soil and unlock nutrients that are already downstairs.
  • Use Foliars instead of fertigating- Nutrient uptake as a foliar is more efficient than water-run fertilizer.  Two gallons as a foliar can replace 5 gallons in the ground.
  • UN-32 can be rationed and reduced by 20%+ when we incorporate Thio Plex into the irrigation schedule in modest amounts.
  • SKIP GYP- Is this the year to save $1-300 dollars per acre and skip gypsum?  We have several growers that are replacing their Gyp this year by implementing an Acidifier/Thio Plex program.  Cost: $35-$90 per acre.  Every soil profile is different, we custom tailor our rec around your soil analysis.
  • Ultra Gro Crop Shield vs Brand X-  When it comes to selling fertilizer, we sell our products based upon the needs and benefits to your crop, not based upon the price of the product. Well guess what…with Ultra Gro Crop Shield, we feel very strongly that we have the absolute best product in the marketplace at the lowest price! At $28 per acre for 30 days of protection, we are proud to be bringing low-cost value to our growers.

Thank you for considering these ideas. Please call your Ultra Gro Crop Advisor for more information or explanation of these thoughts.

Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend!