Optimizing efficiency is key in any operation. This is true when developing a crop nutrient management strategy on your farm. Nitrogen is one of several key nutrients needed on your fields to maximize yield potential.  Persistent rains after planting may prevent traditional methods of side-dressing corn with nitrogen this year. Farmers might need to consider top-dressing when corn is at stages V8 to V9 to maximize nitrogen success.

“One of the main benefits to top dressing at V8 or V9 is the ability to ensure that the nitrogen is applied to the crop when it’s most needed,” said Betsy Bower, Ceres Solutions Agronomist.  In many places across Indiana, there have been significant amounts of rainfall. This leads to potential loss to either fall applied nitrogen or to the early spring applied preplant nitrogen.

Other growers might be considering top-dressing as an option to replace nitrogen lost from denitrification; a process that occurs in saturated soils.

“Layering nutrition – especially on sandy soils – is a good way to keep nitrogen in the soil profile instead of being lost through soil leaching due to rain,” said Bower.

According to Bower, some customers have already started top dressing. Another alternative is to put on a higher rate at preplant and then doing a total side dress at V8-V9 instead of at V5. “The main focus should be aligning application when the crop needs nitrogen the most.”

With a high focus on nitrogen, Bower encourages growers to pay attention to other macronutrients that crops will need as well. “It’s important to remember that other macros such as potassium are essential to optimize nitrogen efficiency.”

To learn more about applying the right nutrients to your field, contact your local Ceres Solutions branch for more information. “Our number one priority is to make sure your fields are reaching their highest yield potential and optimize your return on investment!”