Why Starter Fertilizer?

Perfectly even emergence, excellent early season vigor, and ultimately, maximum stand count is the holy grail every farmer strives for when planting their crop.  But is achieving this trifecta of greatness just a pipe dream? Not necessarily – we can influence each component by implementing an excellent starter fertilizer program.


  • Nutrient availability
  • Quality of starter fertilizer
  • Crop needs

Nutrient availability is the first key component to a quality starter program.  You would be throwing away dollars if the nutritional you apply can’t be easily utilized by the plant. There are many starter fertilizer options on the market, ranging from high polyphosphate formulas to 100% orthophosphate formulas. The smart choice is to use a high orthophosphate blend, as it revolves around the availability of the phosphorus source getting to the germinating plant (ortho is the only form of P a plant can take).  If a polyphosphate is applied, a conversion must occur in the soil that turns the polyphosphate into orthophosphate. This conversion doesn’t just happen instantly, it is dependent on three factors: soil temperature, moisture, and microbial activity. If any of these factors aren’t available at the time needed, the conversion from poly to ortho can take longer. For example, if the soil temperature is lower than  60 ‘F, the microbial activity can be reduced, slowing the conversion from poly to ortho and the less likely your crop will get the phosphorous it needs

Next up - the quality of the starter fertilizer applied affects germination and plant development.  Typically, high polyphosphate blends have a higher salt content.  Applying a high salt starter fertilizer in-furrow can cause multiple issues.  First, salt attracts and retains moisture.  If planting conditions are slightly on the dry side, the salt will compound the situation by drying out the furrow, robbing a germinating plant the moisture needed to survive.  The second issue, higher salt formulations typically contain higher amounts of heavy metals.  Heavy metals such as aluminum, lead, and mercury can be toxic to the plant.  Heavy metals may not kill the plant, but they can negatively affect early season vigor and plant development.

Lastly, it's important to keep individual hybrid nutrient requirements in mind.  A lot of nutrient demand data is upwards of 40 years old and is outdated considering the new hybrids on the market today.  These new hybrids are producing more yield but that yield comes with a price: more nutrients - both macro and micro are needed.  New hybrid lines require more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients to deliver higher yields.  Nutrient demand timings have also evolved, many hybrids require more N, P and K earlier in the growing season making starter fertilizer even more important.

So, we need a holy grail starter fertilizer product – one that allows nutrients to be taken up easily, delivers early season vigor, low salt as to not burn the plant, and offers other micro and macro nutrients to feed the plant. Enter Captivate EDTA. It delivers an analysis of 10-20-5-1S-0.43Zn and was designed specifically for corn.  Captivate is a high quality, low salt, 100% orthophosphate starter fertilizer.  This formulation is perfect for delivering readily available phosphate to a germinating plant.  Corn prefers a 10-1 ratio of nitrogen to sulfur, Captivate delivers that ratio, ensuring a balanced nutrient program.  Captivate also delivers a micronutrient critical to early season development, zinc.  Zinc plays an important role in the production of growth hormones and proteins.  Zinc is also essential in chlorophyll production, cell elongation and transporting calcium throughout the plant.  Captivate includes an auxin technology referred to as V-Row Technology that improves early season root development.

In a nutshell-  starter fertilizer is a necessary component if you want to maximize your yield this season – try Captivate EDTA to meet these needs.

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Derrick tice

Derrick Tice “Ticenator” is the Director of Marketing for the Nutritional & Adjuvant portfolios. Derrick has worked in the ag industry for over 20 years in various roles including seed manager, ag equipment sales, and product manager. This vast experience allows Derrick to understand today’s challenging environment and deliver sound recommendations from seed to harvest. As Director of Marketing for Nutritionals & Adjuvant, Derrick shapes and influences the Innvictis portfolio to offer only products that are the best agronomically for farmers. Derrick’s charisma and passion for ag is easy to see and makes it easy for anyone to approach him.

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