Manage Fallow Field Syndrome For 2020 Planting

Sufficient nitrogen and phosphorus must always be available, even when daily uptake is low, which makes placement important. ( Lindsey Benne )

When soils are cold, saturated or don’t have active roots it reduces biological activity, according to Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie. Prevent plant (PP) fields are at a higher risk of off-balanced microbes that could hurt the 2020 crop.

“Fallow field syndrome is when plants, especially corn and small grains, have trouble extracting nutrients [namely phosphate and zinc] from the soil. The crop will be stunted, and corn typically turns purple,” he explains.

Because phosphorus deficiencies in corn are more likely to appear in PP fields, starter fertilizer could be the boost those fields need.

“If there is cover or a lot of weeds growing, fallow field typically isn’t a problem,” says Antonio Mallarino, Iowa State University Extension. “But in fallow field situation, in-furrow starter could help with phosphorus. But if you don’t have starter you could consider broadcasting an extra 15- to 20-pounds.”

Because leeching or other nitrogen loss was possible this past fall, Mallarino says spring and in-season nitrogen will be important.

“If you didn’t get any nitrogen down preplant, consider 2X2 attachments and 20- to 50-pounds with the planter and sidedress the rest,” he says. “But don’t apply the nitrogen in-furrow because [the salt content] could kill the corn.”

Don't rush soils

Last year reminded farmers patience and attention to detail matters at planting.

“Take the time to make sure not only the field is ready, but planters and equipment are too,” says Brad Niensteadt, Kinze senior product specialist. “Reset your mind, it’s a new year and back to more ‘normal.’ You don’t have to push hard April 1—try not to think about the challenges of 2019.”

Farm machinery is bigger, faster and more efficient than ever before. In 2019, 42% of farmers in a Farm Journal Pulse poll said they could plant all their crops in under 10 days. Other research says, at most, it would take two weeks to plant all of the corn and soybeans in the U.S.—given the conditions were right.

“You can cover more than one acre per minute with a 60 foot toolbar and if you increase to a high-speed planter at 9 to 10 mph you can plant two acres,” Niensteadt says. “Wait that extra day to make sure fields are fit—you only get one time to do planting right.”

More prevent plant field prep news here:

New to Cover Crops? Make Sure You Terminate Them in Time

2019 Prevent Plant Still has Market Implications

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