Expert: Early Spring Nitrogen Application Unlikely To Increase Wheat Yields

Despite the fact that an unusually wet fall and planting delays kept many wheat farmers from applying starter nitrogen, an Ohio State University Extension educator says they shouldn’t rush to apply spring nitrogen earlier than needed.

Even though wheat has had less time to grow and tiller, applying nitrogen too early in the spring could not only cause farmers to lose money, but also present environmental concerns — and it isn’t likely to increase yields, said Ed Lentz, associate professor who specializes in crop production and agronomy.

Instead of applying nitrogen early, Lentz said farmers should wait until green-up, at the earliest, to maximize yield potential, save money and guard the environment.

“Producers have asked if applying nitrogen earlier would offset the low fall tiller numbers and would tiller number and growth benefit from a split application,” said Lentz, who also is an OSU Extension educator in agriculture and natural resources. “In a word, the answer to that question is a resounding no.

“Our research has found that early application won’t result in more fertile tillers nor will it help to compensate for the fewer tillers we had in the fall,” he added. “And the later fertile tillers you get in the spring won’t produce the larger yields that would have been produced from fall tillers.”

Oftentimes, farmers may want to get into their fields and spread nitrogen early because labor doesn’t conflict with other field operations and they can avoid the risk of wet conditions after green-up.

“But there is no benefit for the wheat crop to apply nitrogen earlier,” Lentz said, noting that wheat does not readily take up nitrogen until after the stems begin to elongate, which is about six to eight weeks after green-up.

“So while it may be more convenient, it is riskier for nitrogen loss and won’t help your crop, so why take the risk of losing it in rain runoff?” Lentz said.

He said the general recommendation is to apply nitrogen one time between green-up and early stem elongation. That leaves anywhere from four to eight weeks (depending on the year) to apply nitrogen without having any yield decreases.

“And for those farmers who are nervous that they didn’t get any nitrogen applied in the fall, the unusually mild winter we’ve experienced this year has most likely allowed the soil organic matter to release more nitrogen than you’d typically see in a colder winter,” Lentz said. “Don’t change your management practices because of the unusual year we’ve had.”

Growers could also consider split application of nitrogen, which may result in larger yields compared to a single topdress at initial green-up, depending on the weather. Lentz said a split would also be a hedge if inclement weather prevented nitrogen being applied at stem elongation.

But, research has shown that a single topdress of nitrogen applied at early stem elongation yielded as well or better than a split application, and unless large nitrogen losses occurred at early green-up, yields were similar between early green-up and split applications.

“Growers also need to keep in mind that if nitrogen losses were great at early green-up, nitrogen would also be lost from the first part of a split program,” he said. “Thus a producer applying at the right time and selecting the right nitrogen source should expect yields similar to a split application, which saves money and the potential damage of a second trip across the field.”

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts Supporting Agriculture
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmation Of New EPA Administrator
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by Senate
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
Corn Field
InsecticidesArysta LifeScience, DuPont Collaborate On Rynaxpyr Prem…
February 8, 2017
Arysta LifeScience recently announced that it has entered into a global collaboration with DuPont Crop Protection for the development of Read More
Industry NewsThe Fertilizer Institute Board Elects New Chairman, Vic…
February 8, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) Board of Directors has elected Chuck Magro, President and CEO of Agrium, and Tony Will, President Read More
Sonny Perdue
ManagementARA Joins More Than 600 Organizations In Support Of Per…
February 8, 2017
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) recently joined with more than 600 agricultural groups on a letter of support for Governor Read More