Nitrogen and Sulfur New Twist March 2021

This is my yearly letter on fertilizing winter forage with a twist that can save you money while simultaneously maximizing yield and quality.  In early 2000 we did a number of trials on the nitrogen needs for winter forage and found that 80-100 lbs. of N/A were the optimum economic returns for spring nitrogen.  Yields were 1.5 to 2.5 t/dm/acre for a majority of the sites.  Since that work was completed, we learned how to double our yields.  By planting earlier (10 days to 2 weeks before wheat for grain) it increased yields 35%.  We also learned that up to 60 lbs. of nitrogen/acre in the fall increased spring yields 43% on a field without prior spring manure.  The early planting and fall nitrogen available significantly increased the number of tillers that set the spring yield potential.  Thus, it is common for yields to be 3.5 ton DM/A (10 ton silage) to 4.5 ton DM/A (14 tons silage).  Farms have reported over 5 tons DM/A on better soils in areas south of New York.  If we want to harvest 20% crude protein to offset the very expensive soymeal prices, the crop needs to be fed (see table at right).  Most well managed winter forage is shorted on nitrogen and sulfur.

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