So yesterday (Wednesday) Benjy and I drove over from DEL back to MAR to meet Ron Mulford at the University of Maryland Poplar Hill Research and Extension Center near Salisbury. Ron has been featured many times on this blog over the years. He is retired from the University of Maryland, yet still is doing research at the Poplar Hill facility where he worked for so long and has been a trusted resource for Delmarva growers for decades. Anyway, Ron is conducting a number of research trials with AgroLiquid again this year, including fertility of winter wheat. He has a couple of studies that include AgroLiquid testing total programs (wheat management) and another on topdress N comparisons. But one side trial he is conducting is sort of a top yield production trial, regardless of the inputs. In other words, will the yield support the input costs. In this plot, there were fall and spring applications Pro-Germinator + Sure-K + Micro 500, where normally it would be either/or. This plot looks better than any of the others.
Notice the big shady hat that Ron is wearing. Well the deer flies were terrible, and Ron said that they won't land on your head if it is in the shade. So he asked if he could wear Benjy's hat here, and then told us the part about the shade fly deterrent. Smart guy. But I don't think Benjy was receptive to Ron's obersvations after that. The management and N plots looked good, and will be harvested in a few weeks as the head are turning now. Pictures didn't show any of the small differences, so we will let the yields do the talking.
After that we drove over to some corn plots in a grower's field that Ron set up for plots. It has been observed that growers are now getting planters that just apply liquid fertilizer in the seed furrow, and not so much with 2x2 placement. So we wanted to see about N management in such a system where the P and K fertilizers are applied with the planter, and the N is sidedressed. But upon arrival, I see that we had a problem. The corn was in dire need of the N, and the sidedress had not yet been applied. This was a field following soybeans the previous year. So sidedress should have been an excellent option for N application. But following soybean harvest in 2012, wheat was broadcast as a cover crop and disked in. With all of the rain this spring, the cover crop was not sprayed out until late April. And Roundup was used for burn down, so wheat death was slow. So it is likely that the wheat used up all of the residual N from the soybeans. Now it is over a month since planting, and there is a nitrogen deficiency.
Anyway, the plot below has an in-furrow application of 4 gal/A of Pro-Germinator + 4 gal/A of Sure-K + 2 qt/A of Micro 500. The darker corn to the left is a conventional treatment of pre-plant urea + potash; 2x2 planter placed 30% UAN + 10-34-0 + 2-4-12. So it had 60 lb/Aof N already, and will be getting more at sidedress, up to a total of 175 lb/A of N. So it is a more complicated treatment, but is not showing N deficiency. Normally the AgroLiquid wouldn't be either if things were timely. But it's been a tough year.
The plot below has not had any fertilizer. So the effects of the planter fertilizer are seen in the plot above compared to none below. But it wants some N too.
Now this plot had 15 gallons/A of 30% UAN/eNhance applied preplant broadcast, as with a weed and feed. It is noticeably better than the No N plots. So this split application is advisable. It will have the balance of the N sidedressed. (It has had around 52 lb of N already applied including the preplant and planter fertilizer.)
This is the conventional plot that has had 60 lb of N from urea, 30% UAN and 10-34-0. (The sun was coming in and out, so this is a little brighter, but it was noticeably darker green and bigger than the no N plots.)
So as a management tool, it was decided to make a foliar application of 2 gal/A of ferti-Rain fertilizer to the plots that had not yet recieved the sidedress N and were N-deficient. (There were other fertilizer programs besides the ones discussed in the experiment as well, including other in-furrow competitive fertilizers that are N-deficient.) But we did re-arrange things so that one of the AgroLiquid treatments will not receive ferti-Rain, so that the effects on yield can be measured. This foliar treatment will get some much-needed nutrition into the corn, and then we hope to get the sidedress applied ASAP so that the N deficiency won't hurt yield. We sliced open a plant and you could see the primordial ear and tassel down in the base of the plant. Probably should have taken a picture. But fertility management is so critical at this stage.
So if you are presented with such a situation someday: (1) try to get the burndown on as early as you can, and maybe use paraquat (Gramoxone) for faster kill. (2) make a broadcast application of at least 15 gal/A of UAN (with eNhance or High NRG-N) as part of a weed and feed to provide some early nitrogen. Especially if you think the cover crop took up all of the residual soil N from the soybeans. (3) If there is a heavy cover crop, try to get the sidedress on early if you start to see signs of N deficiency.
But wouldn't you know that the forecast for today is heavy rain from tropical storm Andrea moving up the East Coast. But as always, I am optimistic in the long run. We have the tools for success.