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December 2012 Archive for Ask an Agronomist

RSS By: Farm Journal Agronomists, Farm Journal

Have your agronomic questions answered by a Farm Journal agronomist. E-mail us directly at, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

What Are the Nitrogen Requirements for Corn Early in the Season?

Dec 21, 2012

Question: I am trying to do a better job of providing my corn crop with nitrogen when it needs it. Can you tell me anything about the nitrogen requirements corn needs early in the season?

Answer: From emergence through knee-high, you want to ensure that your corn crop nitrogen levels don’t fall below 10 parts per million in the top 12 inches of soil. From knee-high on, after the corn roots have some depth, you want to maintain 20 parts per million of nitrogen in the top 2 feet.

You really can’t overestimate the importance of nitrogen to your corn crop throughout the season. I’d encourage you to read Darrell Smith’s article, The Challenge of Nitrogen, in the December issue of Farm Journal to learn more. Plus, I’m providing some links to additional information below for your reference.

A Strong Start with Nitrogen Management
Ken Ferrie explains why fertility is the foundation for the Systems Approach pyramid and key to increasing corn yields. Ken Ferrie explains why fertility is the foundation for the Systems Approach pyramid and key to increasing corn yields.

Start Planning for 2012 Corn Nitrogen Management
Now, as soil temperatures cool down, is the time to plan your nitrogen management for next year.

Know How Your Corn Hybrid Utilizes Nitrogen
Know how your corn hybrid uses nitrogen for good performance. Know How Your Corn Hybrid Utilizes Nitrogen Question: I know you say understanding how your corn hybrids use nitrogen is important, but I’m not sure why. I’m picking hybrids for next year and would like to know about that.

Is My Wheat Crop at Risk for Fusarium Head Blight?

Dec 11, 2012


Question: How can I figure out whether my wheat’s at risk to Fusarium head blight?
Answer: An online tool is available to help growers assess their risk for Fusarium head blight. You can find the tool at It was developed by Pennsylvania State University in cooperation with Ohio State University, Kansas State University, Purdue University, North Dakota State University, and South Dakota State University. Information on the site notes that, "The tool helps growers predict the risk of a major epidemic (greater than 10% field severity) in your area based on weather conditions, temperature and moisture." While it’s not 100 percent accurate, it’s a very good resource. If you determine your wheat crop is at risk of developing the disease, consider proactively using a fungicide. You might consider Prosaro, from Bayer CropScience, or Caramba, from BASF. Both of these products offer good suppression of scab if applied proactively using the right timing, fungicide rate and right nozzle technology. One thing I always tell growers is to use nozzles that spray both forward and backward, which helps ensure good coverage.  Adequate water volumes are also important for good coverage. I recommend that you use about 15 gallons of water for your Fusarium fungicide.


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