Nitrogen (N) fertilizers may be a limiting factor for corn production based on rising N fertilizer prices and other production input. There are a few things to consider with high N fertilizer prices: (a) apply N fertilizer at the right time, (2) add or treat urea-based fertilizers with a proven N stabilizer, and (3) apply the N fertilizer at the appropriate N rate.
Apply N fertilizer at the right time
Preplant N application in corn is not recommended in Tennessee because of the length of time from application to when the corn plant will begin significant N uptake. One exception is the application of anhydrous ammonia with properly calibrated equipment. Corn plants take up little N (<12% of N uptake during the growing season) until V6 growth stage, with the most active period of N uptake occurring between V8 to V14. Hence, there is a greater risk for N loss via ammonia volatilization or nitrate leaching from preplant N. Split application is recommended when N rates are greater than 120 lb N/A. A typical split management practice is to apply a third of the total intended N per acre at planting and sidedress the remaining N fertilizer between V4 to V6. Split application also provides flexibility to adjusting N rate during growing season as compared to just a single application at planting. Split-application of a third of the recommended N at planting and sidedress the remaining N fertilizer provides greater yield than single application at planting (Figure Below-average across six trials). Continue reading