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By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

It is important to understand where sulfur that is utilized for crops comes from in order to determine where to best target fertilizer application. In Minnesota, sulfur was not recommended for many crops grown on medium and fine textured soils. Numerous studies were conducted during the 1970's, 80's, and 90's with little to know positive benefits shown except for a limited number of studies where corn was grown on eroded soils. Over the past 10-15 years reports increased as to sulfur deficiencies and research has found that sulfur may be needed for crops most sensitive to sulfur deficiency.

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist


Utilization of liquid fertilizer sources placed directly on the seed at planting has become commonplace in many areas of Minnesota. However, low corn prices as well as challenging planting conditions over the past two growing seasons have caused many to question certain aspects of their overall fertility program.  There are a few suggestions that can be used to ensure the best chance for a profitable return on investment

Got Weeds? Evaluate Your Weed Control Program

By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator in Crops and Jeff Gunsolus, Extension Agronomist, Weed Science

By the end of the growing season, it is not too hard to spot soybean fields where weed control was less than optimal.  Prior to harvest, waterhemp can be found towering over soybean canopies throughout Minnesota.  Taking some time to evaluate effectiveness of your weed control program now can help enhance future weed control and ultimately protect yield potential and enhance profitability in the long run. 

Daniel Kaiser, Fabian Fernandez, and John Lamb
Extension Nutrient Management Specialists

This week of cool weather has made it clear that fall is fast approaching.  The drop in commodity prices will likely cause a few conversations among farmers, consultants, and retailers on what fertilizer to apply for the 2015 cropping year.  Many fields are currently being soil sampled for phosphorus (P), this fall is a good time to consider what is actually out in the field to best target P fertilizer applications.

Nitrogen management for 2015

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John Lamb, Fabian Fernandez, and Daniel Kaiser, Extension Soil Scientists - Nutrient Management


Labor Day has come and gone and now it is time to think about nitrogen (N) plans for next year. This news article will cover some thoughts about fall applications of N.

Soil sampling

If you plan to use a soil nitrate-N test, you need to wait until the soil temperature is below 50°F to get a soil test value that is useful for predicting fertilizer need.

Nitrogen management

The past three years have been challenging for N management for corn. The wet springs have caused larger than normal N losses. In 2014, we saw some of the largest number of acres of N deficient corn in Minnesota in years. The current University of Minnesota N guidelines for corn were based on the use of N best management practices. Fields that had N applied at UMN guidelines may have been short of N, if the fertilizer was applied in the fall. One suggestion for fields with a history of fall N applications with N deficiency problems the last three years is to strongly consider pre-plant spring applications or a split application with some side-dress N before the V8 corn development stage.

By Lizabeth Stahl and Lisa Behnken, Extension Educators in Crops  

Access to results for many of the U of MN crops research trials conducted across the state has now become streamlined with the launch of the new, U of MN Extension Crops Research website.  This one-stop shop can be accessed through the U of MN Extension Crops webpage at www.extension.umn.edu/crops under "Research Reports".

The website contains results for small plot and on-farm crops research and demonstration trials conducted across Southern MN from 2003 to 2013.  You can also access research results for crops trials conducted at Research and Outreach Centers located across the state by clicking on the respective link.  Statewide results for weed science research can be accessed through the "Applied Weed Science" link, and results for the Minnesota hybrid and variety trials can be accessed through the "Minnesota Field Crops Variety Trials" link. 

The Research Reports webpage supplements U of MN Crops websites such as the "Corn", "Soybean", "Small Grains", "Forages", or "Sugarbeets" websites, or the "Nutrient Management", "Pest Management", "Ag Drainage", "Climate and Weather", and "Tillage" websites, where you can find research-based information and resources to help with specific crops-related decisions. 

The Southwest Research and Outreach Center (SWROC) in
Lamberton, MN will host Winter Crops and Soils Day Tuesday, February 4 at
Blue Mound Banquet & Meeting Center in Luverne; Wednesday, February 5 at the
SWROC in Lamberton; and Thursday, February 6 at the American Legion in
Granite Falls.

Winter Crops and Soils Day is a public event highlighting
current research that is specific to southwestern
Minnesota.

The program will address a variety of current agricultural production
challenges facing producers. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. with the
workshop running from 9:30 to 2:30.

Topics include water and fertility management, planting strategies to increase corn profitability, corn and soybean profitability on rented ground, insect and weed management and, of course, the weather and climate. Speakers, depending on location are: Dave Bau, Dr. Jeff Coulter, Tom Hoverstad, Dr. Paulo Pagliari, Dr. Mark Seely,
Dr. Jeff Strock, Dr. Kelley Tilmon and Dr. Dennis Todey.

SWROC's Winter Crops and Soils Day is open to the public. The event's $25
registration fee covers handouts and lunch. Pre-registration is required.
Continuing education units for certified crop advisers will be provided in
the areas of Soil and Water (0.5 CEUs), Pest Management (1.0 CEUs),
Professional Development (0.5 CEUs), Nutrient Management (0.5 CEUs) and Crop
Management (1.0 CEUs).

For further information on Winter Crops and Soils Day, please visit the
SWROC's website at http://swroc.cfans.umn.edu or call the SWROC at
507-752-7372.

By: Mike Boersma, Extension Educator, Murray and Pipestone counties


The University of Minnesota Winter Crops Day and Small Grains Program is a great opportunity to hear the latest University-based research and information about corn, soybean, and small grain production. Whether you are a producer or an Ag professional who works with producers, this program is sure to provide relevant and practical information to help you be successful. The morning will focus on various aspects of corn and soybean production while the afternoon will focus on small grain production in southern Minnesota. The program will be held at the Slayton Pizza Ranch on Tuesday, February 25th. Registration will begin at 8:30 am, with the program running from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

2014 Extension Drainage Design Workshops

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The annual Extension Drainage Design Workshops will be held in four locations in 2014: January 29 - 30, SDSU Extension Regional Center, Sioux Falls, SD; February 11 - 12, North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, ND; March 5 - 6, University of Minnesota - Crookston, Crookston, MN, and March 18 - 19, Holiday Inn, Owatonna, MN. The workshops are a collaborative effort between the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, and South Dakota State University Extension.

The 2-day workshops start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. on day two. The workshops will focus on planning and design of agricultural tile drainage systems to meet both profitability and environmental objectives. The course content is taught in a hands-on manner with lots of discussion time.

Each workshop is intended for those interested in a more complete understanding of the planning and design principles and practices for drainage and water table management systems, including: farmers, landowners, consultants, drainage contractors, government agency staff and water resource managers. Planning topics include legal aspects, basics of drainable soils, agronomic perspectives, doing your own tiling, land evaluation tools, wetlands, and conservation drainage concepts and techniques. The design topics begin with basic design considerations and progress through individual small team projects, with several hands-on problem-solving examples covering basic design and layout principles, water flow calculations, drain spacing, sizing, and grades. Design principles for lift stations and conservation drainage practices are also considered.

Registration for the four workshops sessions is now available at: www.regonline.com/2014drainage The registration price is $225 (price goes up to $300 about 3 weeks before the start of each workshop), and each workshop is limited to about 65 participants. These workshops have typically filled quickly, so register early to guarantee a spot. Due to seating limitations, on-site registration will not be available on the day of the event. Detailed agendas and additional information will follow shortly and be posted to the registration site.

For more information contact Brad Carlson at bcarlson@umn.edu, or visit www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/water/.

John A. Lamb
Nutrient Management Extension Specialist
University of Minnesota

Because of weather, a number of acres of the 2013 sugar beet crop will not be harvested.  It has been a number of years (PIK years) since this many acres have been left un-harvested.  At that time, SMBSC and the University of Minnesota did conduct a number of research studies to answer the main production question:  "What should I do with these fields for next year?" 

By Daniel Kaiser
Fabian Fernandez
John Lamb
Carl Rosen

University of Minnesota Extension Nutrient Management Specialists

The increase number of acres planted to cover crops has raised questions on nitrogen (N) crediting for the 2014 cropping year.  While there are many benefits touted for the use of cover crops, there are a lot of unknowns when determining N credits.  This is especially true for mixes with multiple plant species. 

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Nutrient Management Specialist


The increased number of corn acres managed with prevented planting in 2013 has resulted in numerous questions about management in 2014.  One major question that arises is the effect of fallow syndrome.  Fallow syndrome is a result of reduced colonization of plant roots by vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae (abbreviated VAM).  Since VAM are important in the uptake of elements such as phosphorus and zinc, questions arise as to proper management for the following years crops.  However, fallow syndrome does not affect all crops nor will it likely be an issue for all prevented planting acres

By Daniel Kaiser

Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

With the variation in conditions we have seen this spring there are a few issues that may show up in fields related to cool and wet soils. Purpling of corn leaves due to phosphorus (P) deficiency and early season interveinal striping due to sulfur (S) may occur if temperatures remain cool and we continue to have frequent rains. I want to take some time and outline these issues and some of the related research that has been conducted in the past five years.

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

Management of Iron (Fe) deficiency chlorosis (IDC) in soybean is seemingly and endless topic of research in soybean growing areas with high pH, calcareous, parent materials. We are just finishing a three-year summary of a series of IDC management strip trials that began in 2010. Our main focus for this work was to study the variability in response for a tolerant and susceptible variety to an oat companion crop and a 6% EDDHA-Fe treatment applied in-furrow (we used Soygreen at a rate of 3 lbs of product per acre). The field areas were selected to have some variation in the severity of IDC.

By Daniel Kaiser

University Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

With the extreme variability in growing conditions there have been some questions regarding the variability in soil test. A project is being launched to establish a series of sentinel plots to study the monthly variation in soil test values over the next two growing season. We are looking for participants that are willing to take samples from a single point within a field and mail them off to us at Saint Paul. The goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of what is happening over the growing season for a number of different nutrients commonly measured.

Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

I know there are still questions on the application of sulfur for soybean.  Between me and a number of other researchers in Minnesota, we have been working on a number of projects focusing on sulfur management on corn, soybean, and spring wheat.  Recently the soybean research has been fully summarized so I want to take a minute or two to highlight some of the findings to outline where we are at with the current guidelines for fertilizer management on soybean.

Fall Nitrogen Application

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By John Lamb
Extension Soil Scientist


This year the crops have matured early and harvest is moving ahead of normal.  With a large amount of the soybeans and corn coming out, thoughts are turning to getting fertilizer applied for next year's crop.  For phosphorus and potassium, there are very few problems with an early fall application.  These nutrients are not mobile in most soils.  The only big concern with a broadcast application of P and K is getting the fertilizer incorporated into the soil so it is in a place for the plant roots to utilize them next spring.  Incorporation also reduces the chances of P and K being lost through erosion.

Using Drought-Stressed Corn for Forage

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By Lizabeth Stahl, Extension Educator - Crops

Drought conditions continue to intensify in areas across the state including Southwestern Minnesota.  According to the July 24, 2012, U.S. Drought Monitor report, the southwest corner of the state is now rated in the "Severe" drought category.  The western half and southern counties of the state are also rated as "Abnormally Dry" or in the "Moderate" to "Severe" drought categories, and throughout this area soil moisture levels are low.  For example at the U of MN Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton, soil moisture levels are less than half the historic average for this time of year, and what moisture remains is almost all at a depth of more than 3 feet.  In areas hardest hit by the drought, growers are assessing grain yield potential and if or when to harvest drought-stressed corn for forage. 

Don Nitchie, Extension educator, dnitchie@umn.edu

How quickly crop conditions have changed from the wet weather of May.

Extreme heat and lack of rainfall throughout June has resulted in USDA Crop reports having been dramatically revised to reflect deteriorating crop progress throughout the U.S. Corn Belt. At the moment, conditions appear not quite as severe in SW Minnesota as in other regions but, that could change soon. I hope it is for the better as the result of rainfall.

Dry conditions threatening to generally impact final yields across the U.S. Corn Belt have historically had significant impacts on "old crop" and "new crop" prices. We have certainly seen that in the last few weeks. If market demand for corn or soybeans remain the same and stocks are tight, a relatively small change in expected supply leads to a larger change in prices.

John Lamb and Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Specialists


The corn is tasseling, we are praying for rain, and the week of the 4th of July was hot and miserable.  It must be time to think about evaluating this year's nitrogen management program and making decisions about next year's nitrogen needs.  

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Nutrient Management Specialist

The dry conditions in March and April have given way to extremely wet areas in some parts of Minnesota.  Since alfalfa stands got an early start this year there were a few concerns popping up early in the southeastern part of the state on areas of fields yellowing.  While there may have been some effects due to the cool weather in April a couple of nutrient could be of concern.

John A. Lamb and Daniel E. Kaiser
Soil Fertility Specialists

Nitrogen is important for corn growth. This has been a concern on growers' minds since March. First concern was with the poor tillage conditions last fall. Did the nitrogen applied stay in the soil. We attempted to answer that question in a March 18 E-news. At the time of that E-news, drought was the weather condition on everyone's mind. Now with the record rainfalls, there are concerns if nitrogen has been lost to leaching or denitrification.

Daniel Kaiser

University of Minnesota Soil Fertility Specialist

Research on Iron Deficiency Chlorosis (IDC) has been identifying methods to manage the problem for soybeans. Since 2010 research has been conducted using strip trials within farmers' fields. Currently we are looking for a 5 acre area to conduct a field study looking at the effect of Soygreen and oat cover crops on areas of the field that range from no-IDC to severe IDC. Our goal is to determine the economic benefits of the treatments on varying IDC severity within fields planted with two soybean varieties with varying tolerances to IDC.

Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist


Dry fall and early spring soils have led to questions about starter fertilizer application this spring.  While that planting with starter in a dry seedbed can significantly increase the risks, the overall effect will not be known until after planting.  Assessing the situation after emergence will be the best way to determine if damage has occurred due to "pop-up" fertilizer application.  With some corn already planted and fertilizer decisions made there are a few key points to remember when dealing with starter fertilizers.

Daniel Kaiser and John Lamb

Soil Fertility Extension Specialists

The snow is gone and summer is here? The change in weather this spring has allowed for earlier field work to begin. Questions that come to mind include what kind of tillage should I do and do these condition affect me nitrogen management program for corn.

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

U of M Nutrient Management Website

A new nutrient management website has been launched that houses most of the current fertilizer suggestions and data from the University of Minnesota. This website was made possible by funding from the Minnesota Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council and was put together through a joint effort for several researchers from the University of Minnesota who's research focuses on nutrient management issues for several crops growth throughout the state of Minnesota.  We would like to thank the AFREC program because without them this effort would not have been possible

By Jeff Vetsch and John Lamb. University of Minnesota, Southern Research and Outreach Center and Department of Soil Water and Climate.

Waseca MN, (10/1/2011) - Once soybean harvest is complete many swine farmers begin applying manure to those acres for the next year's corn crop. Manure applications in Southern Minnesota begin in early October and usually conclude by mid November. A significant proportion of the nitrogen (N) in swine finishing manure is in the ammonium-N form. If warm soil temperatures persist after application, the ammonium-N can nitrify and be susceptible to loss via leaching or denitrification. These N losses have negative agronomic and environmental implications. The University of Minnesota recommends fall fertilizer N be applied after soils are less than 50° F at the 6-inch depth. This usually occurs in late October in Southern Minnesota.

Tires, Traction, and Compaction Field Day

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University of Minnesota Extension is proud to partner with NDSU Extension to bring you Tires, Traction, and Compaction Field Day on September 1, 2011 south of Fergus Falls, MN. Registration for the day starts at 9:00 am and discussion and demonstrations will continue until 2:30. The event will be held rain or shine.

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

As the growing season moves forward more questions have occurred about what products to use in side-dress situations. While nitrogen is on the minds of many, sulfur deficiencies are starting to be seen in fields as well. Applying the right product in the right situation at the correct time can be crucial in order to maintain yields and minimize damage to growing plants.

By: Daniel Kaiser and Jeffrey Coulter
University of Minnesota Extension Specialists

With all of the flooded soils and wet fields there likely are questions on denitrification and whether side-dress nitrogen (N) should be applied. The fact is that it can be difficult to predict the amount of N lost. However, two things should be considered when dealing with denitrification:

By Daniel Kaiser
Extension Soil Fertility Specialist

With the recent flooding or late season hail there may be questions on whether a credit can be taken from soybeans not harvested for the next year's crop. Soybeans are a high protein crop which means they can contain a large amount of nitrogen. Average vaules of nitrogen removed in soybean grain are reported at around 3.8 lbs of N per bushel (Source IPNI) for a total of 190 lbs of N in a 50 bu/ac soybean crop. In comparison corn grain would remove about 0.90 lbs of N per bushel and a total of 180 lbs of N in a 200 bu/ac crop.  Can all of this nitrogen be counted on if the soybeans cannot be harvested and are plowed under if they cannot be harvested?  

By Gyles Randall
Southern Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota

Nitrogen management practices for corn have become a popular discussion topic lately among growers, dealers, and crop advisors. Record June-July rainfall (16.25" at Waseca) placed intense pressure on N availability for corn, resulting in considerable acreage of lighter green to yellowish green corn in southern Minnesota. This appearance indicates a shortage of N; likely due to denitrification losses of N from the saturated soils during June and July. Scenarios where N losses and N-deficient corn were most apparent include: 1) corn following corn, 2) fall-applied N, and 3) poorly to very poorly drained soils. Based on previous research, applying an additional 50 to 60 lb N/A, especially in the fall, under these "high N loss" conditions would not have been sufficient to meet the N demand of this year's corn.

By: Daniel Kaiser
University of Minnesota Soil Fertility Extension Specialist


With spring almost upon us there have been questions regarding sulfur application for corn for the upcoming year.  Our current Minnesota recommendations focus on sulfur application to sandy soils that are low in organic matter.  This is mainly due to the fact that sulfate-sulfur is mobile and may leach out of the soil, and that the organic matter is a large storehouse of sulfur and through mineralization this sulfur can become available for uptake in plants.  In the past sulfur was added through atmospheric deposition, applied (but not accounted for) with other nutrients in some commercial fertilizer sources, and in animal manures.  Over time most of these indirect additions have lessened and it is reasonable to assume that there may be deficiencies showing up more prevalent today then in the past.  However, a large research focus has been placed on determining how widespread this problem is and if only certain soils or regions in the area are impacted by potential sulfur deficiencies.  While much of our research is ongoing we have tried to identify key areas to look for in the upcoming cropping year.    

by Ken Ostlie

Problems with lodging in field corn have been reported across Minnesota.  Goose-necked or falling stalks from a variety of causes can complicate harvest and lengthen harvesting times.  With earlier rainy and snowy weather already delaying harvest, growers can ill afford the surprise of unexpected lodging in their fields.  Occasional damage from corn rootworms in triple-stack corn has also occurred. Now is the time to assess how well fields are standing, adjust harvesting priorities and investigate the causes behind unexpectedly lodged corn.

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