Managing nitrogen is not a one-time event. For optimized crop growth and yield potential, nutrient management is as important in the middle of the season as it is at planting, says Eric Scherder, Ph.D., field scientist, Dow AgroSciences.

Growers need assistance to manage nitrogen so it is available when corn requires it throughout the season. One way to manage nitrogen is by applying it shortly after crop emergence or as a sidedress application.

“Nitrogen is something growers should be thinking about all season long, and thinking about how to manage it,” Scherder said. “When it comes to managing nitrogen, you want to stabilize fall or spring applications if that’s the bulk of your fertilizer, because that’s when you have the greatest loss opportunities.”

Corn experiences a critical period of nutrient uptake between the V5 and V8 growth stages. Therefore, stabilizing nitrogen is equally important for growers who make a sidedress application at the V5 or V6 stage, Scherder said, since corn continues to need large amounts of nitrogen for another 30 to 50 days. During that time, corn can’t afford to have a bad day.

“Growers doing a program approach with 60 percent nitrogen up front should consider applying nitrapyrin preplant,” Scherder suggested. “It keeps nitrogen available and gives growers more flexibility in the season if they are delayed by rain, so they aren’t starving the plant of nitrogen.”

Weather is one of the biggest challenges of sidedressing nitrogen. Rain before application makes it tough to get across the field, while heavy rain after application can make nitrogen vulnerable to leaching and denitrification. Nitrogen stabilizers, such as Instinct II and N-Serve, reduce leaching into groundwater and denitrification into the atmosphere, keeping nitrogen in the soil longer for corn use. 

Helping growers preserve nitrogen so it’s there when the plant needs it is a major responsibility for crop consultants and ag retailers in making recommendations these days.

More Dow AgroSciences information on keeping nitrogen accessible to corn is at NitrogenStabilizers.com.