Pre-sidedress soil testing can combat spring weather yield impacts

Spring 2018 has been tough for corn growers. The Corn Belt specifically experienced unusually cold weather throughout April while other parts of the country saw late-spring snow, excessive precipitation and, oddly in some areas, drought. These atypical weather events delayed the majority of corn planting, prompting many farmers to ask: How will this affect my yield?

Historical data indicates that abnormally cold Aprils lead to below-average yield. While such weather and yield impacts are beyond farmer control, there are a few steps farmers can take to help combat potential negative effects.

  • A pre-sidedress soil nitrate test is a great option for farmers to determine the nitrate nitrogen available in the soil after the spring precipitation period and before the period of major nitrogen demand by corn. This test will show how soil was impacted by spring weather events and the late planting start and will inform more accurate sidedress nitrogen recommendations.
  • Best practices are to sample corn when it is 6 to 12 inches tall, or in late May to early June. Farmers should sample areas that are similar and 10 to 20 acres in size. This test works best if farmers avoid previous fertilizer application bands, including starter and anhydrous ammonia bands. Farmers should also take 15 to 20 cores per sample.
  • Tactful sidedress planning, along with use of a nitrogen stabilizer, such as Instinct® or N‑Serve®, can be a great option for farmers looking to optimize their yield despite negative spring weather impacts. This allows farmers to apply more nitrogen for peak growth at critical nutrient uptake stages and helps protect applied nitrogen by keeping it in the root zone longer where and when corn needs it most.

For additional details on nitrogen stabilizers, such as Instinct and N-Serve, visit or contact your local Dow AgroSciences sales representative.

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