Farm Progress

Farmers had to wait until Feb. 25 and March 1 to begin topdressing and manure application.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

March 2, 2018

1 Min Read
TILLER TIME? Cereal crops “spring-forth” often faster than necessary N topdressing and fungicides can be applied.ligora/iStock/ThinkStock

With daytime temperatures fluctuating from chilly to hot, wheat and other cereal crops are sure to explode out of hibernation. That means application time for spring nitrogen, and close monitoring for leaf diseases and head scab.

In Maryland, the state Department of Agriculture sets the date for when farmers can begin topdressing with commercial fertilizer. This year, farmers were able to begin topdressing Feb. 25 — as long as it’s part of the farm nutrient management plan. That date is determined by University of Maryland plant experts. Farmers had to wait until March 1 to begin applying manure.

Each year, University of Maryland researchers examine soil temperatures and crop growth over the winter to estimate when small grains will emerge from dormancy and benefit from spring N application. It’s based on growing degree units.

This winter has been interesting, acknowledges Bob Kratochvil, Extension agronomist at University of Maryland. Through January, it was colder than normal, which resulted in a slow accumulation of growing degree units. The first couple weeks of February were warmer, and the growing degree units quickly accumulated.

Based on the extended forecast, Feb. 25 was the date picked. University of Maryland recommends split applications of spring N with the second application when the crops begin to joint.

‘Time your fungicides’ video
Penn State Extension has a new Identifying wheat stages for fungicide application video that may help you anticipate the growth stage on wheat for best fungicide timing to prevent the costly diseases.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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