Seed inoculants popular this spring

Seed inoculant is selling fast as seeding gets underway across the Prairies.

Some brands and formulations are already unavailable to producers.

However, Novozymes and Becker Underwood say inoculum supplies are adequate, even if farmers’ preferred types and formulations are not.

Novozymes’ Tag Team, its multi-action line, is sold out at the manufacturer’s level, said Lethbridge sales representative Darren Smith.

However, some may still be in retail pipelines, depending on the location.

“TagTeam has been very popular this year. We had a lot bigger run on it than we expected,” Smith said.

“We don’t want any left over. It’s a one-year product. As a manufacturer, you’re never right. If you don’t make enough, the customers are unhappy, but if you make too much, it all costs a lot of money to get rid of.”

David Townsend, brand manager for Becker Underwood, said his company, now in transition after being bought by BASF, is seeing a similar situation.

“Right now we’re confident that we’ve got enough inoculant for all the crops that are going to be planted,” he said. “It’s being shipped around and with the speed at which planting and seeding is occurring, as usual in any year there are shortages at certain retailers as we’re trying to get it moved.”

Seed inoculant, which is used to improve the nitrogen fixation capabilities of pulse crops and forages, is a living organism specific to crop type and can’t be mass produced too far ahead of the use date.

Townsend said companies have to take their best guess at planting intentions each year and then make extra to ensure supplies are available to meet producer needs.

The variety of products is large, with different rhizobium needed in inoculants for chickpeas, fababeans, dry beans, soybeans, peas, lentils and alfalfa, as well as granular, liquid and self-sticking peat formulations.

“In any major crop there’s still some form of formulation available,” said Smith. “It really depends on what crop and what formulation you’re looking for. There’s enough inoculum to get your crop in, it just might not be your preferred type.”

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