At this time of year, you’re likely doing some scouting in customer cornfields. One sight you’re probably hoping to avoid this (and every) summer is nitrogen deficiency.
“You may start to notice the yellowing of the lower leaves of the corn plant. It’s kind of a pale yellowish-green,” says Joe Dee, an agronomist at Ag Partners Coop in Morristown, Minnesota. “You’ll notice spindly stalks later in the season, possibly. As it gets worse, it progresses up the plant and appears as v-shaped yellowing, which starts at the leaf tip and progresses down the midrib.”
Dee says the signs and symptoms of nitrogen deficiency are clear and they can signify something all farmers and retailers dread: yield loss.
“Nitrogen deficiency can have a serious impact on yield, but it can really vary,” Dee says. “You could lose 5 bushels, you could lose 50 bushels, it really depends on how deficient the nitrogen is.”
“Nitrogen deficiency can have a serious impact on yield, but it can really vary…You could lose 5 bushels, you could lose 50 bushels, it really depends on how deficient the nitrogen is.”
That’s why you’ll likely want to do everything you can to fix the situation if you find it in a customer’s cornfield.
When you do find nitrogen deficiency well into the growing season, Dee says it’s unfortunate because that means some yield potential has probably already been lost. However, he also says there are certainly cases where you can apply more nitrogen to try to prevent further loss from happening. There are several factors you need to consider before applying again though, like timing, weather and your equipment.
“We’ve gone all the way up to tassel before, but it really depends on the circumstances you’re in and the equipment you’re working with,” Dee says. “If you’re using drop nozzles, or y-dropping nitrogen at the soil level, you need to consider timing and if/when you can get back into the field. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of another application and if it’s the right move for the customer based off the best information you can gather from the field.”
“We’ve gone all the way up to tassel before, but it really depends on the circumstances you’re in and the equipment you’re working with.”
Dee says the best course of action going forward is to try to help your customers avoid nitrogen deficiency in the first place, “starting from the beginning, in the planning stage, looking at weather patterns and nitrate sampling to gauge the right application rates and timing for your customers based on that data.”
Dee says another good step is to work with your customers to assess the drainage situation in their fields. You can help them figure out if there are areas they should add tile to keep the soil from getting saturated, causing excess nitrogen loss from leaching and denitrification.
Finally, Dee says you can recommend customers protect their nitrogen investment with a nitrogen stabilizer, especially as nitrogen costs remain high.
“Stabilizing customers’ nitrogen, using N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer or Instinct® NXTGEN nitrogen stabilizer, can help prevent those losses,” he says. “The biggest thing we can control as agronomists and farmers from the get-go is using a stabilizer and being smart about applying nitrogen.”
Joe Dee is one of the retailer ambassadors for the nitrogen stabilizer products from Corteva Agriscience. You can learn more about him and the other retailer ambassadors on MaxFacts. MaxFacts is a site for retailers to learn more about N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN, and get timely agronomic insights from other ag professionals.
Instinct NXTGEN® is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions.