Feed Your Plants to Produce Top Yields

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It’s that time of year when we find ourselves scouting corn fields, taking tissue samples and contemplating whether or not to apply over-the-top applications of foliar fertilizers and fungicides. Research has found that timely multiple applications of fertilizer can increase corn yields from 8 to 20+ bushels per acre! Research also shows these are a good investment even when commodity prices are low.

Our developing crops are still feeling the effects of cold, wet spring soils. The weather made it difficult to get seed in the ground, and in some instances, replants were
warranted. Those same wet conditions also caused nitrates to move deeper into the soil profile. Fields where liquid manure and UAN were applied last fall will see the greatest rates of nitrification. I realize not all regions in Latham’s marketing footprint are in the same situation. However, farmers facing similar weather/soil conditions are wondering what to do.

This is an area where I strongly recommend staying the course! On our farm last year, we cut our spring applications by 20 percent. We applied in-season foliar products and saw an increase in yield, so that’s what we’re doing again this year. Sidedressing also has provided huge returns in our area. One neighbor saw as much as
20-bushels per acre increases with his application of 28%!

Nitrogen applied closest to the time when the crop will use it is less at risk for loss. Traditionally, sidedressed nitrogen happens earlier in the corn plant’s life cycle, but estimates are that 40% of the nitrogen a corn plant will use is taken up after tassel. Nitrate leaching is dependent on three major factors: (1) amount of nitrates in the soil; (2) soil texture, and (3) precipitation.

Warm, saturated soils with a pH below 5.5 are most at risk. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on field conditions and your developing crop. Taking notes will help you make more informed decisions in the future.