By Grant Mehring,NDCUC Contracted Research Director
My name is Grant Mehring, assistant professor of plant sciences at North Dakota State University. I am a trained agronomist in corn, as well as other crops that I have spent time with including garden crops, grapes, potatoes, dry beans, soybeans, barley, spring wheat, winter wheat, durum, and oats. I am going to use my knowledge and time spent in corn fields, thinking about corn, talking about corn, and reading about corn, to provide agronomic insight that is pertinent to the time of year and stage of the crop for North Dakota corn producers, from pre-planting decisions, growing season decisions, and harvest, storage, and marketing decisions. I will be using a combination of sources to add value to the research arm at the North Dakota Corn Council, and give a snapshot into current agronomic events.
This week I would like to discuss nutrient management as it pertains to nitrogen and the growth stage of the corn crop around North Dakota, and the weather events to date for our current growing season. Our growing season for corn started off with good soil moisture, went very dry, and then in the past few weeks has been quite wet in a lot of areas. It is time to think about your nitrogen fertility program as it pertains to your soil type, fertility plan, and rainfall events. Our corn in many areas is now mostly in growth stages where nitrogen side-dressing is recommended, V5-V6. In between your herbicide applications take a look at your crops and make a good decision for fertility so that you do not sacrifice yield. NDSU Extension Soil Specialist Dr. Dave Franzen wrote a very useful article a few weeks ago, posted in the crop and pest report that provides detailed side-dress management plans: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr/soils/sidedress-time-approaches-06-02-16
In addition, there are several sources of weather data to determine rainfall. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN; link below) has multiple weather stations throughout ND, which can be a first stop to look at rainfall totals and individual rainfall events through the hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly weather tools. Using your own rain gauges and conversations about rainfall around your farms is the next step to know specific rainfall accumulations, and from there you can extrapolate out around your farmland. It is important to know your general soil type (sand, silt, or clay percentages), and then look at individual rainfall events and ponder your possible nitrogen losses. https://ndawn.ndsu.nodak.edu/
I hope that this helps to consider side-dress options in corn, to attain the maximum yields of corn on your farm. If you have any specific questions please email me at and I will do my best to find a swift answer for you from the diversity of experts here at NDSU. Additionally, if you have an idea for a weekly update on a topic that you are curious about, feel free to send them to me.