AgWeb’s Crop Comments allows farmers across the country to share their planting progress, crop conditions, farming issues and more. Recently, an east-central Iowa farmer submitted a picture of what he calls “ugly stage corn.” Another farmer suggested that perhaps his corn isn’t getting the full benefits of the nitrogen that he applied.
Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist explains that nitrogen-deficient corn in the beginning of the growing season gives up yield potential, whereas, corn that’s nitrogen-deficient late in reproductive stages gives up actual yield.
“You want to keep enough nitrogen available during all corn growth stages so crop growth never slows down,” Ferrie says.
1. Assess the environment for every field; that is crucial in building a nitrogen program. Know your risk of nitrogen loss from leaching, denitrification and/or volatility.
2. Pick the right nitrogen sources, timing and placement. Doing those three things is much more important than trying to pick the right rate.
3. Assess the carbon penalty potential based on the amount and type of carbon left from your previous crop. Don’t forget to assess a carbon penalty for grass cover crops.
4. Consider that split applications and nitrogen inhibitors might be part of the balance of your nitrogen plan.
5. If corn greens up right after a sidedress application, it is telling you that the crop was waiting for the nitrogen and it was giving up yield potential during the process.
6. Season-long scouting is the only way to get a handle on nitrogen needs and management. Knowing when you run short is more important than knowing how much you ran short. As Ferrie emphasizes, “Scout, scout, scout and then make a plan.”
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