Fall nitrogen risk reward

An agronomist warns growers fall nitrogen applications are riskier than in the spring.

Alan Blaylock with Nutrien says fall-applied N will sit in the soil a long time before a crop is there to use it.

“So think about that risk, think about the soil types. If you’re in a sandy soil you really shouldn’t be putting nitrogen on in the fall. If you’re in a high rainfall area where you get a lot of winter and early spring rain, that creates more risk.”

He tells Brownfield fall nitrogen is a bit safer in drier areas where soils stay frozen overwinter.

“But still, there’s greater risk than putting it on in the spring. So the farmer needs to weigh the convenience of putting it on in the fall, when he maybe has more time (and) has drier soil conditions (to) better able to do that operation, against the potential loss that can occur from that.”

Blaylock says farmers applying anhydrous this fall should wait until soil temps are below 50 degrees, which might not occur before November.

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