"Field and soil conditions are much different than they were a year ago," he notes. "None of the factors of a year ago, late fall harvest, poor tillage conditions, lots of fresh residue on the surface, and much nitrogen yet to apply, exist this spring. We did a massive amount of tillage last fall, in some cases perhaps more than was necessary."
One additional benefit for producers is that it has not been wet for extended periods when soil temperatures were warm since nitrogen was applied last fall. Most of the nitrogen should still be present, with a good deal of it still in the ammonium form and so not subject to loss.
"Though we can certainly feel good about preparations we've been able to make for this spring, we know from history that a good fall doesn't always mean a good crop the following year," he cautions. "Soils are starting to dry out nicely in some areas, but we need to be careful not to undo the compaction relief provided by last fall's tillage by driving on soils before they're dry enough."
Waiting until soils are dry enough at depth (not just over the surface) will help minimize compaction effects, as will using controlled traffic, making fewer tillage passes, and lowering tire pressure.
Nafziger encourages producers to follow the same practices they have been using when planting corn following corn this year.
"Our research shows that both corn after corn and corn after soybean respond similarly to planting date and to plant population, so those should change only as soil conditions and productivity might indicate," he said. "We've never been able to identify hybrids that do consistently better in corn following corn, though corn following corn may tend to experience stress (primarily drought stress) and foliar diseases more often, so that should be factored in. And corn following corn typically needs a little more N."
Remember the important things this planting season, Nafziger says.
"Having good soil conditions where the seed is placed and good rooting conditions beneath the surface are critically important for corn no matter what the previous crop," he explains. "And the crop needs to be well provided with nutrients and protected from pests. Once we cover these basics, the crop will respond mostly to weather factors — water and temperature — that we don't control. That has always been true, and will be true again in 2011."
Source: University of Illinois