April 15, 2020

Agronomy Update: Impact of a Mild Winter, Nitrogen Considerations & Key Alfalfa Reminders

BY Dairyland Seed
Outlook on the Heels of a Mild Winter

With the generally mild temperatures and relatively low snowfall this winter, what might we expect going into spring?

Diseases:  What does the mild winter suggest for disease potential in our crops this year? 

Insects:  What does the mild winter suggest for insect potential in our crops this year? 


Nitrogen Management Considerations

Nitrogen is one of the highest input costs yet one of the most important inputs in corn production. How nitrogen is managed can make or break a farm operation. There are many concepts and ideas on managing nitrogen. Frankly, I think some have made managing nitrogen too complicated. The constant fluidity of nitrogen availability is based on many factors and, the environment in the soil is critical.

Soil microbes that regulate nitrogen availability are reliant on proper soil pH, temperature, moisture, oxygen levels and a food source (carbon and nitrogen). The bottom line is, that what is good for the crop is also good for microbes that regulate the availability of nitrogen made available to the crop.

Since nitrogen is so highly controlled by the environment and costly, nitrogen applications should be applied as close as possible to when the crop will need it the most. Therefore, not over exposing the nitrogen to the environment any longer than necessary and risk nitrogen loss.

Best Nitrogen Management Practices:

The chart below demonstrates how various choices in nitrogen management may affect the results.

3 Year Nitrogen Study, Dairyland Seed Research Farm - Wabash, Indiana * (4 Reps)







  1     (1 Appl.)

180#N, NH3 - Pre





  2     (3 Appl.)

90#N, NH3-Pre






45#N, 28%-V3


45#N, 28%-V16, (Y Drop)

  3     (3 Appl.)

90#N, NH3-Pre






45#N, 28%-V3


45#N, 28% Dribble-V16

  4     (2 Appl.)

90#N, NH3-Pre






90#N, 28%-V3, Sidedress

  5     (3 Appl.)

90#N, NH3-Pre






45#N, 28%-V3


45#N, 28%-V10, (Y Drop)

*Corn Soybean Rotation.  Total 180#N each Treatment. No N Stabilizer used in this trial.  Take note of number of applications per treatment.

Please feel free to contact a member of the agronomy team if you have any questions or concerns, we will be glad to assist you.


Key Reminders for Planting Alfalfa

Plant Quality Seed: Plant the best alfalfa you can afford with great yields and disease package. Hint…contact your local Dairyland Seed dealer, District Sales Manager or Agronomist to help with this.

Soil pH: Alfalfa is described as the “Queen of Forages/Legumes”. Remember, most legumes prefer a soil pH of 6.8-7.0, and, in most instances, if you need to add lime or other soil amendments to correct this, it works best to do so a year in advance.

Soil Fertility: Alfalfa produces best with higher fertility levels.

Seeding Depth: Alfalfa seeds need to be planted 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep with the sweet spot of 3/8 of an inch. Alfalfa has to have good to excellent seed-to-soil contact for stand establishment. Rule of thumb is that your footprint should not be more than 1/4 of an inch deep when stepping in worked soil. A Brillion packer does a great job of firming up the soil and, in many instances, this is done prior to and after seeding.

Soil Temperature: Alfalfa can start to germinate with soil temperatures of 40°F or more.

Seeding Rate: 15-22 lbs. for a direct seeding and 12-18 lbs. with a companion crop.

Check herbicide history for carryover: Prior to seeding, check your herbicide use history for the last two growing seasons on the intended field to be planted. Certain herbicide residue can reduce plants stands or kill alfalfa seedlings.

For information about alfalfa stand assessments coming out of winter, please see the March 24, 2020, newsletter here:



Corteva Technology Use Agreements

All growers with orders for any Corteva Agriscience brand seed product, regardless of crop or trait (including non-GM products) need to have a signed Corteva Technology Use Agreement in place by September 1. Growers should sign the Corteva Technology Use Agreement electronically at www.agcelerate.com. Signing electronically is preferable, however, paper copies are available at www.traitstewardship.com.


Brian Weller
Western Region
Dan Ritter
Central Region
Branden Furseth
Northern Region
Rod King
Eastern Region
Terry Jones
Eastern Region

enjoying our Agronomy Updates?  suggestions for topics you'd like us to weigh in on?  Drop us an email at dairylandseed@dairylandseed.com.  We'd love to hear from you!
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