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Four tips to help improve corn growth during wet seasons

May 24, 2016

Following lengthy periods of rain and frost in many Midwestern regions this spring, growers should be cautious of the effects that wet soil may have on their corn growth. Prolonged wet soil can cause difficulties like poor soil aeration, flooding and ponding, nitrogen loss for corn and soil compaction, all of which can reduce yield potential.

Warmer, drier weather is the best remedy for wet or saturated soil, but Syngenta agronomists also recommend managing crops more carefully during wet periods to prevent loss in ROI during the season:

  • Cultivation during vegetative stages: Prior to “lay-by” once soil is dry enough, cultivation during the early- to mid-vegetative stages can help open up and aerate the surface layer and promote root growth.
  • Additional nitrogen applications: Growers should consider adding another application of nitrogen for corn where loss has occurred. Fields that show signs of yellowing with some uneven growth, but have a good chance to make grain and reach maturity, are the most qualified for an additional application. Agronomists recommend applying nitrogen to these fields as early as possible to gain the most benefit. Shortly after pollination is ideal.
  • Soil sampling: To determine whether additional nitrogen should be applied, growers should consider a late-spring test for soil nitrates before the rapid growth begins. When corn plants are six to twelve inches tall, soil samples should be taken and analyzed, assessing the plant available nitrogen.
  • General nitrogen application: If a test isn’t used, 40 to 50 units of nitrogen applied as anhydrous ammonia, liquid or urea with a urease inhibitor is a general recommendation. Rain shortly after application is helpful to move nitrogen into the root zone for uptake.

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