Considerations for late season UAN applications

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

When deciding to make any late-season, rescue application of nitrogen (N), you will need to evaluate your N management program relative to the potential for N losses. Heavy rainfalls can cause N losses due to leaching or denitrification; Dr. Carrie Laboski provides some guidelines in the previous Wisconsin Crop Manager article Assessing the Potential for Nitrogen Loss from Heavy Rainfalls (Laboski, 2011). If most of your N was applied pre-plant and heavy rainfall events occurred early to mid-growing season, then further investigation into N deficiency may be warranted. If you have split-applied your N fertilizer and there has been little potential for N loss, late-season N deficiency is unlikely. If you think that your corn may be N deficient during the late vegetative stages, scout your fields to evaluate any visual effects of N deficiency (e.g. lower leaves have yellowing in midrib, often called “firing” of lower leaves). Nitrogen deficiency (or sufficiency) can be confirmed with a plant tissue test. Follow the plant tissue sampling protocols set forth in the following documents to ensure reliable results: Troubleshooting fields using plant analysis (Laboski, 2010) and Sampling for plant analysis (Kelling et al., 2000).

click image to zoomFigure 1. Corn canopy after foliar application of 28% UAN on July 12, 2011. (Picture taken July 19, 2011). If you have decided to apply a late-season application of N, the N fertilizer source and application method are important selections to make. Late-season foliar (or “over the top”) applications of UAN will result in moderate to severe burning. Research from the University of Missouri indicates that for 2 foot tall corn, broadcast applied 32% UAN results in much greater burn severity compared to broadcast ammonium nitrate or broadcast urea (Nelson et al., 2005). Between row applications resulted in little damage. The authors do not recommend broadcast applications of UAN when the corn is greater than 1 foot tall, while between row applications (of UAN and other N sources) are recommended when the corn is between 1 and 4 feet tall (when applications are warranted). It should be noted that this study was conducted on fields that had high leaching losses and were expected to respond to rescue applications of N (Nelson et al., 2005). Foliar application of UAN is not recommended after the V7 growth stage because the excessive burning of leaves can result in a yield decrease (Sawyer, 2003). Recently, foliar application of 28% UAN, at a rate of 10 gal/ac (30 lb/ac of N) was applied to corn at the V8 growth state at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station. This resulted in moderate to excessive leaf burn (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). However, new leaf development has occurred and these leaves have no burn symptoms. We will have to wait to the end of the year to know the full effect of this application, but with other fertilizer sources available, it was clearly not worth the risk.

click image to zoomFigure 2. Corn leaf after foliar application of 28% UAN on July 12, 2011. (Picture taken July 19, 2011). Foliar application of UAN has been identified as the least recommended option for N application (Fernandez, 2010). Early in the growing season, foliar application of UAN may still cause leaf burn, but it will not likely to lead to a yield reduction. Sawyer (2003) recommends no more than 90 lb/ac of N as UAN applied at the V3 stage or younger and no more than 60 lb/ac of N as UAN between the V3 to V7 stage. When the corn is too tall to risk damage during injection, UAN should be applied with drop nozzles between rows. If dry fertilizer is applied over the top of the corn canopy, urea and ammonium nitrate will cause some fertilizer burn if the granule falls in the whorl. It is best to apply dry fertilizer products when the canopy is dry.

In general, planned split-applications of N, even when they include applications made past V7, are preferable to applying all of the N pre-plant and relying on large (30 lb/ac or more of N) foliar applications as a rescue application. Split-applications prevent large amounts of applied N to be subject to environmental losses early in the growing season. If rescue applications are your only option consider the N source and application location. Stick to products like UAN, urea, or ammonium nitrate; slow-release fertilizers are not recommended late in the season. However, inclusion of NBPT (e.g. Agrotain®) would be beneficial for use with urea when surface applied to reduce volatilization (Fernandez, 2011). Further, avoid broadcast or “over the top” applications if possible to avoid risk of leaf burn and the potential decline in yield that would occur. If broadcast application of 28% or 32% UAN is your only option fully consider the potential tradeoffs between potential yield decrease (from leaf burn) and the potential for yield increase.

References (all links last verified on 21 July 2011):

Fernandez, F.G. 2010. Applying nitrogen after planting.

Fernandez, F.G. 2011. Applying nitrogen late in the game. The Bulletin, Univ. Illinois-Extension, 14:3, July 8, 2011.

Kelling, K.A., S.M. Combs, and J.B. Peters. 2000. Sampling for plant analysis. (white paper)

Laboski, C.A.M. 2010. Trouble shooting using plant analysis. Proc. 2010 Wisconsin Crop Management Conference. 49:26-31.

Laboski, C.A.M. 2011. Assessing the potential for nitrogen loss from heavy rainfall. Wisconsin Crop Manager, 18(6):61-63.

Nelson, K.A., P.C. Sharf, G. Stevens, and B.A. Burdick. 2005. Rescue Nitrogen Applications for Corn. Missouri Soil Fertility and Fertilizers Research Update 2004, Agronomy Miscellaneous Publ. #05-01.

Sawyer, J.E. 2003. Pay attention to management needs of fertilizer products. Iowa State Univ.-Extension. IC-490(4), p. 25-26, April 14.

Prev 1 2 Next All

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System

The New LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides coating accuracy for stand-alone coating systems and for coatings (impregnating) in automated blending ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form