Eric Scherder, field scientist with Dow AgroSciences, has been reminding farmers this spring that managing nitrogen is not a one-time event.
“Nitrogen is something growers should be thinking about all season long, and thinking about how to manage it,” he says. “When it comes to managing nitrogen, you want to stabilize fall or spring applications if that’s the bulk of your fertilizer because that’s when you have the greatest loss opportunities.
Corn goes through a critical period of nutrient uptake from V5-V8, Scherder notes. Because of that, farmers making a sidedress application around V5-V6 should also consider stabilizing nitrogen. Corn will feast on large amounts of N for another 30 to 50 days, he says.
“Growers doing a program approach with 60% nitrogen up front should consider applying nitrapyrin preplant,” Scherder says. “It keeps nitrogen available and gives growers more flexibility in the season if they are delayed by rain, so they aren’t starving the plant of nitrogen.”
Weather continues to be one of the biggest challenges of sidedressing nitrogen, Scherder adds. When it rains prior to an application, it is tougher to get across the field. Heavy rain after application can make nitrogen vulnerable to leaching and denitrification, meantime. Nitrogen stabilizers can reduce leaching into groundwater and denitrification into the atmosphere so it stays longer in the soil for corn to use, he says.