Topdress or Not to Topdress? That's the Question - Brian Arnall Helps Farmers Answer that QuandaryMon, 12 Feb 2018 14:54:11 CST
As many in our audience know, it has been a tough winter for farmers in Oklahoma and across the Plains with little to no precipitation seen since this past fall. As the seasons progress, many producers are now facing the time at which decisions must be made in regard to top dressing their wheat crops, especially needed this year in order to produce the high-quality grain being highly sought after in the current marketplace. However, long-term forecasts suggest recent drought conditions will continue and intensify for the next several weeks and months at least. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Oklahoma State University Extension Associate Professor Brian Arnall this week for his advice to farmers on how to navigate their decision-making process during these challenging times. Listen to their complete conversation for the full spectrum of Arnall’s advice, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
According to Arnall, most farmers will fall into one of two categories - those that apply their own topdress and those that rely on someone else to administer the application. If you belong to the latter category - that complicates things.
Without any assurance that rain is on the way, Arnall admits he can’t get excited about applying Nitrogen just yet, preferring to wait and see if forecasts become more favorable before committing to the expense of the input. And, while it is typical for farmers to start their applications around this time period, he says that plants can indeed benefit from a late season application. So, for farmers with the ability to apply their own - Arnall recommends waiting for favorable forecasts or until more definite decisions regarding the viability of your crop can be made.
“We can wait. Even if it doesn’t start raining until hollow stem,” he said. “We have an opportunity post-hollow stem with sprayers and applicators to get over the crop, get response we need and be the most efficient in nitrogen.”
On the other hand, Arnall says if rain unexpectedly shows up in the forecast, custom applicators will be inundated with calls and the likelihood of you getting your topdress down in time plummets. In this scenario, Arnall suggests farmers go ahead and topdress their best stands to hedge their bets on the weather.
Arnall also offered his advice on the mode of application that he believes will work best for both conventional and no-till farmers. For conventional tilling, he recommends a liquid application and for no-till, go with a dry application.
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