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Nitrogen Thoughts/Fall Burn Down


This time of year brings about many changes in the farm community. We are hopefully enjoying a bountiful harvest, but as we wrap up these activities, it’s time to create an action plan for fall.

Nitrogen Applications Thoughts and Goals

As we set the table for next year’s corn crop it is important to lay the ground work for proper nitrogen levels for next year crop.

Why consider a multi-pass approach to nitrogen application?

  • Minimize risk for nitrogen loss.
  • Ensure ample nitrogen amounts throughout the crop season.
  • Keep the planting season timely next spring.
  • Mitigate risk in nitrogen applications by avoiding “placing your eggs all in one basket”.

How do we accomplish this?

  • It is important to maintain a level of comfort between the farmers’ goals and their ability to get the applications made in a timely manner.
  • It is critically important to maintain a level of flexibility throughout each application window.  
  • It is important to lay a good base level of nitrogen protected with n-serve through the fall application window. Then follow up with subsequent applications based on the growing season and the crop year we are having.
  • Experiment with and better use tissue testing to help improve the utilization of nitrogen applications.

Fall Burn Down Applications

You need to utilize fall burn downs to maintain control of winter annuals, maintain a weed-free environment, and ensure earlier planting conditions. Fall burn downs are the ideal time to get the jump on mares tail control.  

The majority of all mares tail comes up from Halloween to the end of November in central Illinois. This allows us the time to apply adequate rates of chemistries to get control of mares tail that have developed resistance to glyphosate chemistry.

It is critical to understand that fall burn downs need to be treated completely separately from spring residual applications for water hemp that are developing resistance to glyphosate. 

How to get control of mares tail in the fall:

  • The foundation of a solid fall burn down is a quart of 2-4-D.
  • Dicamba can be efficacious on broad leaf weeds.
  • Control can be improved by adding glyphosate into the mix on any field with grass issues.
  • Apply a residual product with fall burn downs.

This needs to be matched with your proposals for next year’s cropping plan. There are products that will allow you to switch between corn and soybeans and may be very important to keep in mind with the uncertainty in the grain complex as of late.

I believe optimum control can be obtained if applications are made from now until the ground freezes later this fall.

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