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    Alabama Corn: Planting Season About to Begin

    ©Debra L Ferguson stock photography

    While corn planting is just across the corner, let’s take a moment to shortly review the management practices with great impact on corn yield: weather, nitrogen, and hybrid.

    First, there is not too much we can do about weather, unless we have an irrigation system, so let’s hope that mother nature will provide sufficient and timely rain and sunlight for our crops to grow well.

    According to climatologists, Alabama weather in 2022 will be under some influence of La Nina in the spring (drier South/wetter North) but will move through a neutral phase in the summer and leaning to El Nino in the fall (wetter South/drier North). If we can provide irrigation when needed let’s do it wisely and be aware that this practice can greatly impact yield (about 27%).

    Second, nitrogen management can impact yield as much as weather does (approx. 26%), so let’s do a brief review on some points of N management, considering the currently high fertilizer prices we’re facing now:

    • N rates need to be adjusted according to yield expectations and field conditions, and economical response may vary from 1.0 to 1.4 lb N/bu of corn, depending on residual N from chicken litter previously applied, N released from soil O.M., or fixed N from previous legume crops;
    • there are several N fertilizers available in the market but it’s important to consider N losses from leaching or volatilization, so avoid high rate single applications or broadcasting N fertilizers with high potential for N losses through volatilization like untreated Urea; and
    • be timely correct to maximize N use efficiency, which is 30%-50% of the total rate at planting plus 50%-70% of the total rate up to V6 (sixth leaf with collar visible). Be aware, late nitrogen applications after tasseling tend not to have a positive impact on yield.

    Third, choosing a hybrid is a hard decision to make and may already have been done. But, if this decision is still hanging remember to look for hybrids that have consistently performed well across locations and years, with high tolerance to diseases (especially Southern Rust), and presenting a good standability, lodging, and grain drydown.

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    Information on the performance of different hybrids can be found online at the AU Variety Selection Platform, please visit here and explore the data available for the official variety trials (OVTs) and for on-farm variety trials across the state.

    Finally, due to the uncertainties that 2022 is bringing along, it doesn’t seem like the year for us to test new products or practices that have not been validated by research but rather try to be consistent with our past years yield average and take advantage of the high grain prices to sell our crops with a good profit.

    Some market experts are predicting corn prices higher by the end of the year (current future corn prices, as of March 18, for May 22 and September 22 are $7.41 and $6.62 a bushel, respectively), especially if Ukrainian farmers are unable to grow corn this year once that country exports 15% of the global corn market.




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