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Sidedressing underway once corn is tall enough

Sidedressing underway once corn is tall enough
Crop Watch 2015: Farmers park planters and pull out anhydrous rigs to sidedress corn.

Fields like the Crop Watch '15 field will soon have nitrogen applied, if it doesn't already. Where the weather has cooperated, many are unhooking from the planter once they finish planting and hooking to the anhydrous applicator to inject nitrogen for corn.

Crop Watch 5/22: Great time to check planter performance while corn is small

With most modern applicators, corn can be relatively small and you can still sidedress without covering the corn.

Crop Watch 2015: Farmers park planters and pull out anhydrous rigs to sidedress corn.

The advantage is to get the N applied in case rains might set in and cause a race between corn growth and whether you can get back in the field to sidedress or not before corn is too tall. If you have lots of acres to sidedress, most breathe easier once the N is applied.

Two strategies can help lessen the risk of getting caught in a bad situation without N applied. One is to be equipped to make a late application with a high-clearance sprayer if weather prevents traditional sidedressing with an anhydrous toolbar or a liquid application rig, which either dribbles N or injects N below the surface.

High-clearance application equipment is becoming more common, and even some fertilizer dealers in pockets where the practice is catching on have them available, at least for custom application.

The second is a strategy used in the area of the Crop Watch field. One option is to apply anhydrous ammonia pre-plant on end rows and along grass waterways, and perhaps on point rows in odd areas of the field, before planting. That takes a large amount of time off the application schedule, dealing with those odd-shaped areas and areas that eat up time.

Crop Watch 5/18: Quick emergence in warm soils starts off Crop Watch season

Ready for N: The Crop Watch '15 field will likely have a season's worth of N injected by the time you read this story.

Once the corn is up, the rest of the field can be sidedressed. The operation moves more quickly since the areas that usually slow up application have already received N. The risk is that big rains might cause leaching, but it's sort of a compromise many appear willing to make.

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