Wet field conditions, beginning with last fall’s rain and continuing through a soggy spring, may have early season field work bumping into planting time.

These challenging field conditions require careful management between anhydrous ammonia applications and planting to avoid causing damage to corn seedlings.

After anhydrous is injected into the soil, there is a zone of concentration approximately four inches in radius around the knife insertion point in the soil. Anhydrous burn and injury may occur when seedling roots grow into this anhydrous ammonia application zone.

Depending on soil texture and moisture, this zone may vary in size. In wet soils, anhydrous is less likely to drift. While in dry soils, anhydrous may expand farther than the typical four-inch expansion zone, which can end up being dangerously close to the two-inch planting depth for corn.

Seedling injury from anhydrous ammonia leads to uneven plant emergence and the growth rate of young plants is slowed. Injured seedlings often have impaired roots with limited ability to take in water. In drier weather, plant damage from anhydrous ammonia applications is more conspicuous.

During the seedling stage of the Field Check Up Series, your Channel Seedsman will evaluate plant health and take stand counts in your fields to determine if anhydrous ammonia or other factors may be disrupting yield potential.

Prior to planting, consider injecting ammonia at a depth greater than five inches and up to eight inches, depending on available soil moisture to avoid injury to seedlings.

Ammonia placement depth can help lengthen the time before the seedling root reaches a “hot spot” ammonia band. More mature seedlings also have a greater chance to thrive in spite of damage from anhydrous ammonia.

To further minimize potential for injury, apply anhydrous ammonia in the direction you would normally plant, then run the planter between the knife rows.

Visit Channel.com for more tips about anhydrous ammonia applications and to find your local Channel Seedsman.

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