We've already heard from one farmer who has done the math on his bottom land drying out where he intended to plant corn. He figures that if suddenly we get good drying conditions from here on out, it will be the end of the month before he can plant there. So that means opting to plant corn on some higher ground which should dry out faster.
"I need to do corn because I've already forward contracted some and I want to cover myself," he says. "I'm not wild about corn after corn and prefer rotation, but if that's what we have to do, we'll do it."
Del Unger and his son, Lance, and daughter, Adair, Carlisle, routinely raise corn after corn. It fits their soils and style of marketing. They will be the first farm stop on the 2011 Indiana Farm Management Tour on June 28. The tour continues in southwest Indiana through June 29. The June 28th evening program at the Southwest Purdue Ag Center north of Vincennes will be devoted to honoring and learning about management tips of the 2022 class of Master Farmers. The award is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University School of Agriculture.
One secret to corn after corn is to provide adequate fertility, the Ungers report. They shoot for high yields, and in turn commit considerable resources to making sure they have adequate nutrition in place. Their soil consultants pull tissue samples, especially on irrigated ground. Through those tests, they've discovered that several microntutrients can be limiting in certain situations. One that tends to be limiting more than others in their area is zinc.
Supplying enough nitrogen is also key in corn after corn. While it's a hotly debated topic, some specialists recommend applying as much as 40 more pounds of N per acre in corn after corn compared to corn after soybeans.
The Ungers approach spoon-feeding N to their crops, especially on irrigated land. With the capability of injecting nitrogen through irrigation, they can supply N all the way to tasseling time if they want to, or feel they need to do so.
Even on non-irrigated ground, they try to split applications between pre-plant, starter fertilizer and sidedress applications. Jim Camberato, Purdue university Extension soils specialist, says that in corn after corn, with residue present, and especially if it's a no-till situation, he recommends no less than 40 pounds per acre of N go on as starter fertilizer at planting time. Look for more tips in the upcoming issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.