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There’s a lot of work to do before planting

By Staff | Apr 8, 2020

-Farm News file photo After the 2019 harvest, there was a very short window for any fall tillage or anhydrous applications to be completed, leaving those tasks to be completed this spring before planting.



Conditions from last fall have left a lot of work to be done in the fields before many producers can begin planting.

“I have driven up to Fort Dodge and northcentral Iowa a couple of times the last several weeks and I am just amazed how many corn stalks we see there and I know those people are not no-till,” said Mark Licht, assistant professor and extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “I know they are going to try to do something this spring.”

Some of that pre-planting work, in addition to any spring tillage, will also mean nitrogen application.

“That means we have additional nitrogen needs to be applied this spring,” he said. “At full soil moisture, having some additional things we need to do this spring before planting, it’s naturally going to push planting back a little bit, or at least that is my initial thought.”

Spring nitrogen recommendations

Licht said he recommends there be 10 to 14 days from an anhydrous application to planting, depending on how much rain fell after the nitrogen was applied and how it was applied.

“What’s more important than the number of days between, is how much rain fell in between. And how that anhydrous is applied. If it’s applied with guidance so that it is between the corn rows, 10 days is going to be fine, regardless of how much rain fell,” he said. “However, if it’s applied at an angle to the row or if it’s applied potentially over the row, then you need essentially an inch of rain to help minimize any root injury you could have with that anhydrous application.”

Licht admits he gets a little weary about spring anhydrous applications.

“I tend to tell farmers it does make me nervous to use spring anhydrous,” he said. “Some of them do it and it works just fine, I understand that, but in some respects, I may be looking at maybe applying urea or ammonium nitrate. It’s going to have less impact on establishing that corn crop. With anhydrous, it’s possible and people do get away with it. The part of it is getting the timing right, the precipitation and spacing right. Once you have that, it can be done and it can have very little to no impact as well. It’s just a little bit higher risk.”

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