This week the weather looks like it is going to give us a few morning opportunities to apply Nitrogen to our winter wheat crop on frozen ground. Opinions differ on when the best time to apply N on the wheat is.
Here are things that we consider when making our decision on application timing.
1. Soil Type/Drainage. In our very poor drainage it is highly probable that if we wait until the frost is out of the ground the earliest the field will carry a machine would be first week of may. By then the wheat may be starving for some N. You can see this in the color of the crop especially in a cool spring.
2. Cover Crop Opportunity. Our preferred method for under-seeding red clover in our winter wheat is to suspend the clover seed in 28% UAN and have our custom service provider (Woodrill Ltd.) broadcast it using a high floatation TerraGator with flood-jet nozzles.
This technique allows:
- Uniformity in seed distribution
- UAN breaks down the seed coat giving us a higher germination rate on the red clover.
- Early Timing for this application enables some freezing and thawing action to incorporate the seed.
4. Logistics. Waiting for the ground to dry means that we will be spraying burn-down, planting corn and planting soybeans all at the same time. We don’t want to have to worry about organizing getting N on the wheat when both our service provider’s and our own resources are focused on planting corn and soy’s.
5. Agronomics. The wheat is going to grow weather we can drive on the field or not so we prefer to have the nitrogen their when it starts growing. We can always do a second application if we feel it prudent but we can’t go back in time and get the crop off to a better start.
These are the things we consider and the reasons why we apply early. Your farm will consider similar criteria but reasoning for timing will differ.
Hopefully we can get it done this week wish us luck.