If you want to harvest a bin-busting corn crop this fall, then never let it have a bad day during the growing season. Feed it adequate nitrogen along the way.
Some of the field test plots that Ken Ferrie’s staff is tending this summer contain tall, robust corn plants. Upon closer inspection, it appears there are short, sickly corn plants in the same plot.
Simply, some of the plants have received regular meals of nitrogen at each step of their growth and development. The rest have had to forego the nutrient--even when they needed it--and the nitrogen restriction is obvious to the group of farmers and retailers checking out the plants.
"You want to keep enough nitrogen available at all growth stages, so crop growth never slows down," explains Ferrie, Farm Journal field agronomist, to the 2013 Farm Journal Corn College participants.
"Nitrogen-deficient corn in the beginning of the growing season gives up yield potential," Ferrie adds. "Nitrogen-deficient corn in the late reproductive stages costs actual yield."
Take a Systems Approach
Figuring out how much nitrogen your corn crop needs, what type it needs and when it needs the nutrient is a trickier task than it seems at first glance. The best way to go about the process is to use what Ferrie refers to as the Systems Approach, a set of agronomic management practices designed to help you minimize risks and capitalize on the opportunity for profits.
While the system involves a variety of factors, it is based on one guiding principle, Ferrie says: "Every practice you use is intrinsically linked and ultimately impacts yield."
Here are seven valuable management considerations Ferrie offers up to help you plan your next nitrogen program in corn.