How Do We Change Our Management to Deal with Grain on the Ground?

Listen to this week’s agronomy Extension Corner on some of the management that will be needed to deal with the effects of weather and grain loss this fall:

This is Aaron Nygren, your local agronomist with Nebraska Extension in Colfax, Cuming, and Stanton counties. This fall, weather reminded us that our crop isn’t made until it is in the bin. Between a hailstorm in late September in Platte and Colfax Counties that shattered soybeans before harvest and wind that affected corn around the area, there is a lot of grain left on the ground. So, how does this change our management for next year?

First off, think about a bushel of soybeans. One bushel of soybeans contains roughly 3.25 pounds of nitrogen and .8 pounds of phosphate. Now think about the hailed area that had over 40 bushels of soybeans on the ground. That is 130 pounds of nitrogen and 30 pounds of phosphate. Should we change our fertilizer rate to account for these nutrients and if so how much? On the nitrogen side, the research is limited so we don’t have a definitive answer for how much of the nitrogen will be available to next year’s corn crop. There was an on-farm study done in 2011 following a hail storm at the ENREC near Mead that happened in October of 2010. Five replications of 0, 60 and 100 lbs of nitrogen resulted in the following yields for dryland corn, 152, 178, and 179 bushels. An irrigated study with only 2 replications showed the best economic return when only 60 pounds of nitrogen were applied, resulting in a yield of 199 bushels. So, take a look at your fertilizer rates and think about cutting back some if you had a lot of soybeans on the ground this fall.

On the corn side, think hard about how you are going to manage volunteer corn next year. Grazing fields should help reduce the amount of corn. Tillage may help get some to germinate earlier, but at the same time it may just spread seed around more and create a bigger challenge compared to clumps from intact ears. The large amounts of corn out there are going to make corn on corn challenging on some fields unless the trait package allows for a herbicide to spray out the volunteer so check what herbicide tolerance your hybrids had this year.

Because of these challenges, rotation to a different crop may be the best option on most fields. Also, plan on likely having to spray earlier and more often for volunteer control.

As a reminder, if you want to learn more about agronomic topics and recertify your private pesticide license, be sure to plan on attending the Confronting Cropping Challenges meetings that will be held in the area on Dec 14th in Pender, Dec 18th in Stanton, Dec 19th in Tekamah and on Dec 21st in Fremont. For more information, go to

To listen to this radio message again or to get more information, visit our local website at or give me a call at 352-3821. This is Aaron Nygren, your local agronomist for Nebraska Extension on KTIC radio.

How Do We Change Our Management to Deal with Grain on the Ground?
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