This fall, weather reminded us that our crop isn’t made until it is in the bin. Between the hailstorm in late September in parts of Butler, Platte and Colfax counties that shattered soybeans before harvest and wind that affected corn around the area, there is a lot of grain left on the ground. So, how does this change our management for next year?
First off, think about a bushel of soybeans. One bushel of soybeans contains roughly 3.25 pounds of nitrogen and .8 pounds of phosphate, plus other nutrients like potassium and sulfur. Now think about the hailed area that had over 40 bushels of soybeans on the ground. That is 130 pounds of nitrogen and 30 pounds of phosphate. Should we change our fertilizer rate to account for these nutrients and if so how much?
On the nitrogen side, the research is limited so we don’t have a definitive answer for how much of the nitrogen will be available to next year’s corn crop. There was an on-farm study done in 2011 following a hailstorm at the ENREC near Mead that happened in October 2010. Five replications of 0, 60 and 100 pounds of nitrogen resulted in the following yields for dryland corn, 152, 178 and 179 bushels. An irrigated study with only two replications showed the best economic return when only 60 pounds of nitrogen was applied, resulting in a yield of 199 bushels. Additional nitrogen increased yields slightly, but not enough to pay for the extra fertilizer expense. Other nutrients like phosphorus should be released to the crop as the soybeans break down during the growing season. So, take a look at your rate and think about cutting back some on your nitrogen and phosphorus rate if you had a lot of soybeans on the ground this fall.
On the corn side, think hard about how you are going to manage volunteer corn next year. Grazing or baling fields should help reduce the amount of corn, but there are still going to be plenty of kernels left to germinate next year. Tillage may help get some to germinate earlier, but at the same time it may just spread seed around more and create a bigger challenge compared to clumps from intact ears with a no-till situation. The large amounts of corn out there are going to make corn on corn challenging on some fields unless the trait package allows for a herbicide to spray out the volunteer. Therefore, rotation to a different crop may be the best option. Also, plan on likely having to spray earlier and more often for volunteer control.
Have you looked in your billfold lately at your pesticide license? If yours expires in 2018 and you need to recertify your private pesticide license, or if you want to learn more about area agronomic topics, be sure to plan on attending the Confronting Cropping Challenges meetings that will be held Dec. 14 in Pender, Dec. 18 in Stanton, Dec. 19 in Tekamah and Dec. 21 in Fremont. For more information, go to croptechcafe.org/ccc. Additional opportunities for pesticide training will be available in the area in February through April, so stay tuned for those dates.