Winter 2020 was interesting to say the least. With temperatures all over the map and sporadic snowfall, the conditions in the Midwest kept everyone guessing. However, there’s no question that spring 2020 will be busy, regardless of what the weather brings.
Getting Into the Field
In Iowa, Ron Geis, market development specialist for Corteva Agriscience, reported seeing snowdrifts and large puddles in fields across the state in late February. Because of those conditions, Geis predicted a lot of farmers are likely to get to work in the fields starting in mid-March. And once they do, he said, they will need to work quickly.
“We’re behind the eight ball because of saturated soils in the fall,” Geis said.
The wet weather pushed many fall nitrogen applications back. So, those farmers are now looking at spring applications. And even if you were able get the work done postharvest, you may need to consider applying again.
“We went into the fall pretty well saturated, and when we have saturated soils, that’s when we’re most prone to lose our nitrogen,” Geis said.
Regardless of whether you applied in fall, or are planning to do so in spring, you’ll want to perform a preplant soil nitrate test. That way you’ll be able to see what nitrogen is still available and how much you’ll need to apply.
Anhydrous Ammonia Application Best Practices
If you were unable to get anhydrous ammonia on your fields in fall, it’s likely you’ll want to stick with anhydrous for your spring fertilizer. This makes the most sense when it comes to saving money and ensuring you have what you need.
With that in mind, here are some best practices you’ll want to consider when applying spring anhydrous:
- Do not apply to frozen soil.
- Do not apply if it’s raining.
- Do apply as early as possible to avoid planting delays.
- Do avoid crop injury:
- Do not plant over injection tracks.
- Do use reduced application rates when possible.
- Do wait several days before planting.
- Do avoid personal injury:
- Do wear proper personal protective equipment.
- Do stop application if you smell ammonia. This means ammonia is escaping and can cause injury, so readjust your equipment or wait for better weather/soil conditions.
- Do stabilize with N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer.
Stabilize Spring Anhydrous
Geis said it is imperative to use a nitrogen stabilizer with spring anhydrous, and N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer is a great option. “Stabilizing spring nitrogen is highly effective. It’s not just for fall timing, it is important for spring as well,” Geis said.
According to Geis, nitrogen is extremely vulnerable to loss in spring from leaching and denitrification, thanks to rainy weather and warm temperatures. The full rate of N-Serve in spring helps preserve nitrogen until later in the season. That way, it’s in the root zone when corn needs it to grow properly and optimize yield.
The weather is always a guessing game, but by applying anhydrous properly and stabilizing it with N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer, you won’t have to guess about nitrogen. You’ll know it will be there when the corn needs it.