2018’s Delayed Fall Will Impact 2019’s N Application

2018’s Delayed Fall Will Impact 2019’s N Application

The wet weather of 2018’s harvest season and the host of problems it brought to the corn belt is something many farmers are happy to put behind them. Unfortunately, one of these problems may persist into 2019 – potentially severe impacts on nitrogen applications. Some corn growing areas saw as little as 5% completion of anticipated fall anhydrous acres. Impacts of switching to spring applications may include compaction, sidewall smearing, N loss due to poor injection track sealing, seedling injury caused by anhydrous burn, cost increase of needing to change nitrogen product and application style, and an overall lack of hours in the day to get everything done for growers and suppliers accustomed to fall applications. While we can’t predict if we will have a wet or dry spring, growers who normally apply in the fall should take time over the winter months to understand and predict their nitrogen application needs by asking questions like “How many days do I need for all my spring work with this addition?”, “Do I have enough manpower and horsepower to run anhydrous and tillage?”, “What are the cost implications of switching nitrogen forms to urea or UAN?”, “ Can I afford to have it custom applied?”.  Growers who take the time to work through these questions with agronomic advisers will be that much farther ahead come the spring rush.

Some thoughts on spring nitrogen by product

Anhydrous Ammonia – Spring NH3 still benefits from nitrogen stabilizers especially springs where we see weeks of warm wet weather in between N application and planting. For an additional investment valued around 3bu/ac, growers can protect their large investment in nitrogen as well as yield advantages as high as 13bu/ac when stabilization products are used.

When switching from fall to spring applications remember that compaction and timing are much more sensitive issues. Growers who feel rushed may enter fields before conditions are correct and leave themselves long term compaction zones. It is also important to leave at least 7 days between application and planting in hopes that the product will diffuse through the soil and help lessen the risk of seedling injury.

Urea or Urea Ammonium Nitrate(Liquid 28% or 32%) – Urea and products that contain urea are easily volatilized and lost in warm, damp conditions during the spring and early summer. That is why the industry suggests incorporating these products whenever possible to reduce nutrient loss. In operations where incorporation is not possible due to no-till or other constraints then a urease inhibitor is justified and a yield benefit is likely.