This time of year, spring wheat growers in North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota are finalizing their plans for the new crop. Micronutrients are important to optimize yields, and recent soil and tissue test trends indicate farmers may need to apply more zinc and boron. Here are some facts to consider when you’re considering spring wheat fertilizer recommendations:

Zinc deficiencies are common. AgVise Laboratories in Northwood, N.D., provides summaries each year of the soil tests they analyze. They split states into multi-county regions, as shown in the below map.

Soil test results from 2015 show widespread zinc deficiencies in western North Dakota, with 80-90% of samples having low levels of zinc. In Montana, 50-87% of samples had below optimal zinc levels.

These low zinc soil levels in spring wheat fields translated to low levels in the crop, too. In 2015, 78% of the spring wheat samples submitted to the United Suppliers’ Nutra-Links plant tissue program had a zinc deficiency.

Spring wheat tissue tests show challenges with boron. Important for pollination and grain fill, boron is an important micronutrient retailers and farmers may not think to monitor in wheat. In 2015, more than 90% of the spring wheat tissue samples submitted to the United Suppliers’ Nutra-Links program had low boron levels. Addressing this hidden hunger before pollination is crucial for optimizing yield.

Copper can help fight wheat diseases. Copper deficiencies in wheat can reduce seed set, hurting your yields. And because copper is a vital component of lignin, which helps fight disease, a lack of copper can result in more disease pressure. Due to the nutrient’s importance in wheat, always request copper levels with soil and tissue test results.

Micronutrient deficiency can reduce wheat yield. Nutrient stress hurts yields. It doesn’t matter if the deficiency is nitrogen, zinc, copper or another nutrient. By including needed micronutrients in a soil application, you can be proactive and address your spring wheat’s nutrient needs before symptoms of a deficiency (and lost yield) occur. Avoiding an expensive foliar application is smart business, too.