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Nitrogen questions remain

(CIFN file photo)

LEXINGTON – Since the fall season was cut short due to weather, nitrogen choices are a hot topic heading into the 2019 growing season.

Anhydrous ammonia was not applied on as many acres as expected – which is forcing farmers to think of a different strategy for spring.

“Obviously, the question is: Can we get anhydrous on this spring and at what point do you say it’s too late?” asked Jason McArdle, plant manager of the Brandt Lexington location.

McArdle still feels spring ammonia is a good option but only when it is done right.

“We want to make sure we are rejecting the idea of going out into wet conditions. We want the soil to have some moisture obviously, but to avoid compaction and creating problems down the road.”

Growers may want to put the applicators slightly deeper than they would in the fall and stay off the row, applying parallel to the corn row or at an angle across the field. When there is water in the soil and rainfall, you are eliminating the free ammonia which means there is a lesser chance of injuring corn.

Another option includes liquid nitrogen or UAN at 28 or 32 percent. Those choosing a broadcast application may want to consider using a stabilizer.

“The good thing about ammonia and even side dress 28 percent is you’re still getting that banded source of nitrogen which tends to always perform at a little higher level than anything that is broadcast,” McArdle adds.

When it comes to weed pressure, many of the winter annuals will start poking through the ground soon if they haven’t already. A wet fall also prevented many fall burndown applications from taking place. Growers should keep a close eye on their fields as spring continues.

“You’ve got your typical 2,4-D dicamba type of applications that will knock those out. If you’re an early planter, maybe you can combine taking care of those with your pre-plant residual. If you’re going to plant later, you may have to make an extra pass,” McArdle advised.

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