DuPont Pioneer experts provide fall management tips
Timing phosphorus and potassium fertility
To improve phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) management and maximize the return on your investment, consider precision soil sampling, such as management zone and grid sampling, in conjunction with variable rate technology. The return on fertilizer investment is greatest for low-testing soils. With variable input prices, avoiding unnecessary fertilization of high-testing soils increases profitability.
P and K fertilizers applied in the fall are more stable, offering less risk than fall-applied N. If you’re trying to reduce your spring workload, P and K fertilizer applications can easily be done in the fall, when weather and soil conditions are generally not as wet, which diminishes concerns about compaction.
If weather or a late harvest delays application, avoid applying P and K on frozen or snow-covered fields due to a high risk of loss with surface runoff. In such cases, application prior to planting in the spring is just as effective, as long as soil test levels are above the very low range.
Fall weed control
Heavy weed cover in the spring causes the soil to remain cool longer, delaying tillage and planting. The winter annuals may also provide a nest for insects that attack emerging crops. In addition, if spring brings cold, wet conditions again next year, you will have a limited window for field preparation before planting.
“In the fall, you should assess your weed control program and determine which fields are going to need more attention than others,” recommends Hoss. “In areas such as Illinois and Indiana, a fall herbicide application may be beneficial because it provides a different mode of action for weed control.”
Fall herbicide applications provide greater spring flexibility and improved weed control of winter annuals. Burndown and residual applications in the fall help prevent weeds from producing seeds in the spring, giving you a head start on weed control.
Remember that a number of factors influence spring weed growth, and fall applications may not always eliminate the need for a spring burndown treatment. Be sure to factor in weed populations and planting schedules when developing an effective control program.
Additional management considerations
Depending on harvest timing, additional fall management practices can be beneficial as you set the stage for 2014. These may include crop rotation, cover crops and fall tillage, which generally tend to be a multiyear decision based on personal preferences and specific to your farm. If you’re looking for additional insight, consider working with your DuPont Pioneer agronomist to evaluate your current practices and determine the best options for your farm.
Post-harvest is also a good time to evaluate your management practices alongside yield data using Pioneer Field360 Select software. Interactive field maps provide field-by-field visuals to help you evaluate your management decisions, including fertilizer applications and seeding rates, alongside historical performance data.
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