Hard to believe that harvest was finished October 11 for us. It’s good that I have the opportunity to drive the combine because of the many observations I see visually in the cab from the yield monitor to the crop itself. I will briefly touch on one of the things I’ve recognized from the cab and share more later.
The corn crop was so variable this year. I do many field trials to help me improve my success no-tilling, but the trial that really stood out was the different rates of nitrogen application that I put on with the planter.
This year, I applied with the planter a low-salt NPK package that includes a micronutrient in the seed trench. I am sold on this program and have used it for the past 10-plus years. It seems that it really gets the corn plants off and running and conquers the stress that usually happens early, especially when we plant early like we did this year.
I also applied a side band of 28% with a recipe mix of Thio-Sul (sulfur). I have constantly increased the amount of this mixture to the point that I was applying up to 25 gallons of 28% with 5 gallons of Thio. But this year, I cut back on the amount to 20 and 5. A neighbor whom I share storage tanks with has used this amount. My total amount of nitrogen was still the same as in the past because I increased my sidedressed application to offset the decreased amount that I put on with the planter.
To my surprise, I noticed on the yield monitor a huge variation in yield in one field that I use for my in-field nitrogen studies. The observation that I could not believe was there was a 30- to 40-bushel yield jump where I increased my planter application from a 20 gallon/5 gallon mix to a 30 gallon/4 gallon mix! The corn was planted the same day with the same hybrid with the same soil type. I varied the amount of the sidedress application to obtain the same amount of total nitrogen and still there was that much of a yield difference.
Now the question I have is this. Should I go back and put on the amount I have had in the past with the planter or should I increase the amount even more? It obviously depends on the weather and the planting date, or does it? Since I can’t predict weather and planting dates (maybe you all might have an inside way of doing that, but I sure don’t), what is the right amount? Your comments are appreciated.