What are N application options in a compressed spring?
If N is going to be sidedress applied, then rates can be adjusted from results of the late spring soil nitrate test (LSNT). Soil samples, 0-12 inch depth, are collected when corn is 6-12 inches tall with rate adjustment based on the measured nitrate-N concentration.
Mid-to-Late Vegetative Stage Applications
If corn becomes too tall for normal sidedress equipment, it is possible to use high clearance equipment to apply N. The N source typically will be UAN solution, with equipment available to either dribble the solution onto the soil surface with drop tubes or shallow inject with coulter-shank bars (coulter-disk injected), and dry urea, which can be broadcast spread across the top of corn. Research in Iowa has shown corn can respond to mid-to-late vegetative corn growth stage N application when there is deficient N supply, but there can be loss in yield potential. Reduced yield occurs more frequently when soils are dry at and after application (applied N not getting into the root zone) and with severe N stress. Best responses occur with sufficient rainfall shortly after application to move N into the active root zone.
If attempts to get N applied preplant or early sidedress have failed, or there are concerns about N supply from early fertilizer or manure applications, then mid-to-late vegetative stage application can be a helpful rescue. Having some non-N limiting(approximately 50 percent more than normal rate) reference strips or areas in the field are helpful for comparisons. These areas can be used to visually determine if corn would respond to additional N, or as a check to see if earlier N applications or carryover N is not sufficient. These reference areas are also needed for N stress sensing tools (such as chlorophyll meters or active canopy sensors) to help guide application rates. These reference areas should be planned and N applied early in the season, or be field areas that are known to be non-N deficient. Plant and canopy sensing can begin when corn is at approximately the V8-V10 growth stage. If late N application is needed, it should be applied as quickly as possible, and not later than the tassel stage.
- Fertilize first if it does not delay corn planting, in other situations split or sidedress apply N.
- Make certain needed N fertilizer products and sidedress or high-clearance equipment will be available.
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