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Avoid Seedling Damage from Nitrogen Applications this Spring

Avoid Seedling Damage from Nitrogen Applications this Spring
Situation could be set to see more N damage to seedlings this year.

Conditions are shaping up such that Jim Camberato expects more questions about seedling injury from nitrogen applications, or hopefully how to avoid it before the application has been made. Camberato is a Purdue University Extension soil fertility specialist.

The questions will likely come mostly from those who have applied or intend to apply anhydrous ammonia, he notes. "You need to apply anhydrous at least seven inches deep to help reduce chances for corn seedling damage," Camberato says.

Fewer roots: Nitrogen burn when anhydrous is too close to the germinating seedling or planting is not delayed long enough after application can affect rooting.

An actual study indicates that if you are applying 150 pounds of actual N per acre, it's safe if the ammonia is applied five to six inches from the seed. However, if you apply higher rates, then you need to increase the distance from the seed.

Related: K-State Professor Emeritus Sees Trend in Starter Fertilizer Use

If you're injecting 200 pounds of actual N per acre, for example, Camberato says you need to be seven to eight inches away from the seed.

Some farmers report noticing burn from anhydrous ammonia on germinating seedlings in past years. Often the application is to wait a few days if you pre-plant anhydrous before planting. In a tough planting year like this one, the tendency is to not wait as long as might be recommended after N application before planting the field.

One farmer notes that when he used to apply N on an angle, he would see problems with plants in some spots where the N application crossed the rows before planting. It was worse in certain years than others. Technology has helped him overcome this problem.

Using A-B lines and knowing where anhydrous was applied, the grower can make sure that he is not planting where the knives ran and applied anhydrous ammonia. He's hoping that will mean a smaller chance for anhydrous injury on corn plants, and better stands without N injury than he sometimes saw in the past.

From the corn hybrid you select to the seeding rate and row width you choose, every decision you make influences the size and scope for corn yields. Download our FREE report: Maximizing Your Corn Yield.

TAGS: Extension
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