Farm Talk

Crops

May 16, 2013

Plant now, add nitrogen later

Parsons, Kansas — The wettest first quarter of the year since 2008 has delayed nitrogen fertilizer applications and corn planting.

When the rain faucet shuts off, plant first and apply nitrogen later, advises Peter Scharf, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist and professor in plant sciences at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“Almost all of the time, the right decision is to plant,” he says. “Delaying planting is more likely to hurt yields than delaying nitrogen application. Research shows that delayed nitrogen application won’t hurt yield. In wet years, delayed nitrogen application will actually help yields.”

Scharf cites research from 2008-2010, years with wet springs like the one we are now experiencing. Over those three years, corn receiving nitrogen fertilizer when it was knee-high out-yielded corn receiving all nitrogen fertilizer at planting by an average of 60 bushels per acre each year. “This is because the nitrogen applied at planting was lost due to wet weather and was not there when the crop needed it in June and July.”

Preliminary data from the Missouri Climate Center at MU indicates a statewide average monthly rainfall of 6.2 inches in April, making it the fourth consecutive month with above-normal precipitation. Total statewide precipitation for the first quarter of 2013 was 16.5 inches, more than five inches above normal for the period and the seventh-wettest January through April on record. Some areas of northeastern Missouri had as much as 9.2 inches of rain over the last four-week period, pushing corn planting back to 27 days behind last year and 18 days behind normal, according to the May 6 USDA crop progress report.

Delayed application may mean changing machinery. Some producers may have planned to use nitrogen-application equipment before planting that won’t work in a standing crop. Scharf encourages producers to be flexible about how they get their nitrogen applied. He notes that a number of fertilizer dealers have recently purchased or leased high-clearance applicators, and many have side-dress units available. “This creates options in addition to equipment that the producer actually owns.”

Due to drought, much of the nitrogen fertilizer applied to corn last year was not used. Some producers may have hoped to use this nitrogen with another corn crop planted this year. This possibility looked reasonable all through the fall of 2012, but is questionable now. A small number of deep soil samples Scharf and others took this spring have revealed less nitrogen than expected.

“We found almost zero nitrate in the top foot, but about 20 pounds of nitrogen per acre as nitrate in the second foot and another 20 in the third foot,” Scharf said. “In short, the nitrate has moved down, and it seems likely that a good bit has moved below three feet deep. I wouldn’t take a credit for last year’s nitrogen unless it was backed up by a deep soil test.”

Soil tests to measure residual nitrogen are available through the MU Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory, through local Extension centers or through commercial vendors.

For information on how to interpret soil test results, MU Extension guide G9177, “Preplant Nitrogen Test for Adjusting Corn Nitrogen Recommendations,” is available for free download at ext ension.missouri.edu/p/G9177.

Nitrogen application also is discussed in “Best Management Practices for Nitrogen Fertilizer in Missouri” (IPM1027), available at exte nsion.missouri.edu/p/IPM1027. £

1
Text Only
Crops
  • wheat_freeze_lodging.jpg Freeze could damage some Kan. wheat

    The hard freeze throughout Kansas in the early morning hours of April 15, could cause some damage to wheat, said Jim Shroyer, K-State Research and Extension crop production specialist. Wheat in the jointing stage is most at risk, he said.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • cornplantlatemay2.jpg WASDE report eases low crop price fears

    USDA’s April 9 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates continued a series of recent reports that have offered corn and soybean producers a more optimistic grain-price outlook than what was expected for most of the winter, Purdue Extension agricultural economist Chris Hurt says.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • USDA: Corn acres expected to drop 4%

    The amount of American cropland devoted to corn is expected to shrink about 4 percent this year as farmers devote more acres to soybeans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week.

    April 8, 2014

  • Bt-resistant rootworms ID’d in five states

    Researchers say bugs are developing resistance to the widely popular genetically engineered corn plants that make their own insecticide, so farmers may have to make changes.

    April 1, 2014

  • MU economist: Corn, bean price volatility next 5 years

    Expect volatility in the soybean and corn markets over the next five years, said Pat Westhoff, director of the University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (MU FAPRI).
    Look for corn prices to drop to $4 per bushel and soybean to $10 per bushel on average for the next five years, he said.

    March 25, 2014

  • marestail.jpg Plan now to control marestail in soybeans

    Controlling marestail in soybeans has been a big challenge for Kansas no-till producers in recent years.
    Because soybeans are generally planted later in the season, and marestail generally germinates in the fall or early spring, application timing and weed size are critical factors to successful control.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Checking alfalfa for winter injury

    In the last couple of weeks, I’ve heard many concerns about alfalfa production for this spring.
    Cold temperatures and lack of snow cover are the two main issues producers are worried about for next season’s crop production, as certainly the alfalfa plant could die if exposed to extremely cold temperatures. In general, alfalfa plants can tolerate up to three weeks of winter injury before the plants are killed.

    March 11, 2014

  • soypods.jpg USDA reports on status of GE crops

    Genetically engineered (GE) varieties with pest management traits became commercially available for major crops in 1996.
    More than 15 years later, adoption of these varieties by U.S. farmers is widespread and U.S. consumers eat many products derived from GE crops — including corn-meal, oils, and sugars — largely unaware that these products were derived from GE crops.

    March 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • wheat-head.jpg Everest still leads Kan. wheat acres

    For the second year in a row, a variety of wheat developed by Kansas State University, is the leading variety in Kansas.

    February 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • RickReimer.jpg Innovation, exports fuel soybean demand

    Brent Hayek is revved up about potential new uses for soybeans, and he is piling up the miles to share his enthusiasm.

    February 18, 2014 2 Photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content