RALEIGH - With corn prices and acreage estimates rising, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reminds growers that they can improve their chances for success by using agronomic services, such as soil testing, nematode assay and plant tissue analysis.
Before planting, growers should review their current NCDA&CS soil reports closely, paying particular attention to any sulfur recommendations. Last year in North Carolina, about 29 percent of cornfields tested needed additional sulfur. If sulfur is low, it should be added along with the fertilizer applied at planting. Plants need sulfur to use nitrogen fertilizers most efficiently.
Because corn has the potential to be profitable this year, some growers may be tempted to take chances and plant on marginal soils. Since corn is very susceptible to plant-parasitic nematodes, growers are urged to collect soil for nematode assay now if it was not done last fall. Results will indicate, before planting, whether the field selected is likely to pose problems for corn production. If so, growers can switch to another field or apply a preplant chemical treatment. After planting, there is no way to manage harmful nematode populations, and the entire crop could be lost.
The last chance to apply fertilizer nutrients to corn occurs about four to six weeks after planting. Growers can make the most of this opportunity by collecting tissue samples about three to four weeks after emergence. Tissue tests indicate precisely which nutrients should be included in the lay-by application and help growers make the best use of their fertilizer dollar.
NCDA&CS soil testing is available only to North Carolina residents. However, other agronomic tests, such as nematode assay and plant tissue analysis, are also available to out-of-state growers. For more information, including fees, sampling instructions and information sheets, visit www.ncagr.com/agronomi/. An illustrated guide to collecting and submitting corn tissue samples is also available at www.ncagr.com/agronomi/pictorial.htm. For additional assistance, contact your NCDA&CS regional agronomist or call (919) 733-2655.