The risks of nitrogen loss are mapped out for Midwest growers in a special website compiled by a University of Missouri Plant Scientist and Extension specialist. Professor Peter Scharf’s Nitrogen Watch 2013 identifies “danger areas that are on track to have widespread problems with nitrogen loss.”
Scharf says the areas on the map haven’t lost enough nitrogen, necessarily, to cause serious N deficiency in corn – but he says they could, depending on the amount of additional rain that comes. This year, Scharf recommends planting first in appropriate conditions and applying nitrogen later.
“Really, nitrogen application timing is timing-neutral from planting until the corn is 4-foot tall. I think there really are some yield gains by waiting and some yield losses by waiting and they about balance each other out.”
Scharf says you’re playing an odds game when you farm. He tells Brownfield Ag News, “I see, looking at all the available research that the odds are equal any time during that time frame and you’re really not giving yourself any big problems by delaying unless there are equipment problems. And, if you can figure out how to solve that you don’t need to worry about not having it done before you plant.”
Last year’s droughted corn left a lot of nitrogen in fields, most of which is likely gone by now. Scharf says “nitrogen is safe in the bin or in the tank” but there is going to be a lot to get done in a short time.