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Should You Apply an In-furrow Starter Fertilizer to Corn?

Should You Apply an In-furrow Starter Fertilizer to Corn? published on 1 Comment on Should You Apply an In-furrow Starter Fertilizer to Corn?

Josh Copes, Rasel Parvej, Syam Dodla, and Dan Fromme

Phone calls have been coming in regarding applying an in-furrow starter fertilizer at corn planting. An in-furrow starter is commonly called a “pop-up” fertilizer, and is applied in the seed furrow (in-furrow). This allows for ease of application and placing the nutrients close to the germinating seed which allows the seedling to have easy access to nutrients. A good in-furrow fertilizer will contain a high percentage of phosphorus along with some nitrogen, but could also contain sulfur, potassium, or micro-nutrients. In Louisiana, ammonium polyphosphate fertilizers, 10-34-0 and 11-37-0, are commonly used in-furrow. When applied in-furrow, there is potential for salt and ammonia injury from fertilizers with high salt indexes or contain urea- or ammonium-nitrogen. Urea is, therefore, not recommended to be applied in-furrow. Adequate soil moisture at planting, however, decreases the likelihood of potential salt injury. Another starter fertilizer placement strategy is applying in a 2 X 2 band (2” to the side of the seed furrow and 2” below the seed depth). This method of application requires additional planter attachments, but allows for use of higher rates of fertilizer at planting and avoid salt and ammonia injury. In-furrow application rates in excess of 5 gallons per acre of ammonium polyphosphate in corn are not advised. If you would like to know more about salt index for fertilizers visit this web site:

In Louisiana, considerable research has been conducted on the use of starter fertilizers in corn, either with 10-34-0 or 11-37-0 (Mascagni et al. 2006). In five out of 15 trials (conducted from 1991 to 2005), corn grain yield was significantly increased by the use of an in-furrow starter fertilizer. It should be noted that in each year soil-test-based phosphorus levels were considered high in the test area. Therefore, corn yield increase could still occur even though soil test phosphorus levels are high. Phosphorus deficiency symptoms and yield responses to the in-furrow fertilizer were most common in light textured soils (e.g. sandy loam and silt loam soils). Mascagni et al. (2006) also documented that nitrogen only fertilizers had little effect on early season plant growth whereas, in-furrow fertilizers containing phosphorus increased early season plant growth in all trials. This demonstrates that it is the phosphorus component that improved early season plant growth. The enhanced plant growth from the phosphorus containing fertilizers, also, resulted in hastened maturity of the corn crop. Mid-silk occurred four days earlier where yield responses were observed and three days earlier when no yield response occurred.

With low commodity prices and high input costs, producers are concerned whether or not they should spend the money on applying an in-furrow starter. Situations where a positive yield response will likely occur from the use of in-furrow phosphorus containing fertilizers are: 1) Planting earlier than recommended, 2) Planting in high residue/no-till situations, 3) When there is a need to apply phosphorus fertilizer based on soil test results, 4) Years with poor early season growing conditions (low temperature and excessive rainfall). Soils, especially, sandy and silt loam soils are slow to warm in the spring. Cool soils can often result in reduced phosphorus uptake by the plant resulting in temporary phosphorus deficiency, even though soil test phosphorus levels are adequate. Therefore, when planting earlier than February 25 in south and central Louisiana and March 10 in north Louisiana, an in-furrow starter may be beneficial. High residue situations typically result in cooler and wetter soils that can result in poor early growth and phosphorus deficiencies. Also, early season nitrogen deficiencies may occur in high residue/no-till situations. When soil test levels calls for the addition of phosphorus, using an in-furrow starter would be recommended. As mentioned earlier, in-furrow application of the fertilizer allows easy access of the nutrients since it is applied in a concentrated band with the seed. Unfortunately, we cannot predict early season growing conditions, an in-furrow starter can be cheap insurance against detrimental cool and wet weather conditions often experienced in Louisiana in March.

In summary, if you are equipped to apply a fertilizer in-furrow and plan on planting as early as possible or into high residue/no-till situations then applying an in-furrow starter may be beneficial. If soil test reports call for the addition of phosphorus then an in-furrow starter would be a good method to place the phosphorus in close proximity to the developing roots. Also nutrient use efficiency may be greater compared to a broadcast application of phosphorus, especially if the broadcast application occurred in the fall. This is due in part to time, since an in-furrow application is applied at planting, there is less time for soil reactions to “tie” up phosphorus from being available for plant uptake. Soil pH should, also, be considered for the decision of when to apply phosphorus. Phosphorus is most plant available from 6.5 to 7.5 pH range. If outside this range phosphorus should be applied closer to planting. If you have any questions please contact your local county agent, Drs. Dan Fromme, Rasel Parvej, Syam Dodla, or myself.
Contact Information:

Dr. Josh Copes
Assistant Professor (Agronomy)
Northeast Research Station
Cell: 318-334-0401
Office: 318-766-3769

Dr. Syam Dodla
Assistant Professor (Soil Fertility and Irrigation)
Red River Research Station
Office: 318-741-7430 Ext: 1103

Dr. Rasel Parvej
Assistant Professor (Soil Fertility)
Scott Research and Extension Center
Office: 318-435-2908
Cell: 497-387-2988

Dr. Dan Fromme
Professor (State Corn, Cotton, and Grain Sorghum Specialist)
Dean Lee Research Station
Office: 318-473-6520

Louisiana Rice Notes #3

Louisiana Rice Notes #3 published on No Comments on Louisiana Rice Notes #3

A new Louisiana Rice Notes newsletter is now available. This edition covers the recent heavy rainfall and pending storms, nitrogen fertilizer questions, conventional rice following Provisia, Louisiana variety and hybrid trends over the last 18 years.

2019 Louisiana RIce Notes #2

2019 Louisiana RIce Notes #2 published on No Comments on 2019 Louisiana RIce Notes #2

This editions covers the reasons for the poor rice germination and poor stands we are seeing, things to consider prior to fertilizing and flooding, and why fertilizing on dry ground is so important.

Soybean Variety Response to Taproot Decline (TRD)

Soybean Variety Response to Taproot Decline (TRD) published on No Comments on Soybean Variety Response to Taproot Decline (TRD)

Trey Price, Associate Professor, & Myra Purvis, Research Associate, Agronomic Crop Pathology, Macon Ridge Research Station

Boyd Padgett, Professor, Agronomic Crop Pathology, Dean Lee Research Station

Taproot decline (TRD) of soybean, caused by Xylaria sp., usually is not noticed until pod fill when interveinal chlorosis and necrosis (Figure 1) become evident from the turn row.  However, the disease may cause seed rot, seedling disease (Figure 2), and plant death (Figure 3) at any point the growing season.  Infected seedlings and vegetative stage plants usually go unnoticed because they are quickly covered by rapidly growing neighboring plants.  Infected plants will break at the soil line when pulled.  Roots will appear black when excavated (Figure 4), and are usually in contact with blackened debris from the previous season.  Reproductive structures of the pathogen known as “dead man’s fingers” may appear at the base of affected plants or on other debris during periods of high humidity producing spores that resemble powdered sugar (Figure 5).  Disease distribution within the row usually will have a focal point of dead plants, surrounded by those with foliar symptoms, and neighboring healthy plants.  These areas may overlap creating a clustered and streaky distribution within a given field.  Fields in soybean for two years or more are at risk to taproot decline, and yield losses can be significant.  For more information concerning taproot decline, please read the first report at the following link:

Figure 1. Interveinal chlorosis and necrosis.
Figure 2. Taproot decline of seedling.
Figure 3. Plant death caused by taproot decline.
Figure 4. Blackened root diagnostic of taproot decline adjacent to infested debris.
Figure 5. “Dead man’s fingers” produced by Xylaria sp., causal agent of taproot decline.

Many requests for a list of susceptible/resistant varieties have been received prompting the release of preliminary data.  During the past two off-seasons in the greenhouse, we have challenged varieties from the 2016 Official Variety Trials against the pathogen, Xylaria sp.  The process is briefly described hereafter.  We used sterilized millet infested with the pathogen to infest growing medium.  Inoculum was standardized using inoculum concentration experiments (data not shown).  A total of 145 varieties were screened.  During each “run”, 4 replications of 40 varieties (4 seed/4” pot, planted in a linear furrow) were either inoculated at planting or left non-inoculated then removed to flood-irrigated greenhouse tables for three weeks.  Plant roots were harvested, dried to final moisture, and weighed.  The experiment was repeated once, and paired t-tests (α=0.05) were used to compare inoculated (n=8) vs. non-inoculated (n=8) root weights for each variety.  For simplicity, we present the results here as the percentage of root weight reduction.

Paired t-tests indicated that significant root weight reduction occurred at 48% and higher.  Based on percent root weight reduction, varieties were divided into four categories: susceptible (>48%), moderately susceptible (36-48%), tolerant (24-36%), and resistant (<24%).  Out of 145, 97 varieties were deemed susceptible with percent root weight reduction ranging from 48 to 85%.  There were 25 moderately susceptible, 16 moderately resistant, and 7 resistant varieties.  For brevity, we will not present the susceptible varieties in this report.  A list of all varieties included in the screening can be found here.  Resistant, tolerant, and moderately susceptible varieties with corresponding percent root weight reduction are in Tables 1, 2, & 3, respectively.  Field confirmation of these results is ongoing.  Preliminary data from inoculated field trials indicates that varieties deemed resistant in the greenhouse show no significant response.  Varieties deemed susceptible in the greenhouse show significant responses to inoculum in the field.

Table 1.  List of TRD-resistant varieties as determined by inoculation and response.

Variety % Root Weight Reduction
OSAGE 8.391702
CZ 4818LL 18.879462
5N490R2 19.263012
S42RY77 20.944016
5N433R2 22.215409
5067 LL 22.559704
R07-6614RR 22.970824

Table 2.  List of varieties moderately resistant to TRD as determined by inoculation and response.

Variety % Root Weight Reduction
Armor 55-R68 25.253945
RJS47016R 25.793535
CZ 5375RY 26.205598
HBKLL4953 27.339808
4880 RR 27.926596
P5752RY 28.094408
CZ 5225LL 28.605468
ARX4906 29.805397
Go Soy IREANE 30.762175
4995 RR 30.883269
AG 48X7 31.611326
P4788RY 32.46393
AG 46X6 34.502577
S47RY13 35.157094
5625 RR2 35.190462
S49XT07 35.483918

Table 3.  List of varieties moderately susceptible to TRD as determined by inoculation and response.

Variety % Root Weight Reduction
P4814LLS 36.6288
CZ 4105LL 36.631044
GS48R216 37.120729
REV 57R21 37.152585
CZ 4222LL 37.789292
S49LL34 39.360691
P54T94R 39.928806
S12-2418 40.28502
S52RY77 40.607899
REV 51A56 40.734935
P41T33R 41.997581
S11-17025 43.578124
4967 LL 43.925284
S47-K5 43.984519
Armor 46-D08 44.015611
Armor 48-D24 44.107678
Go Soy 5115LL 44.470801
Armor 48-D80 45.47956
REV 56R63 45.566353
REV 49R94 45.659963
Rev 49L49 45.896947
S43RY95 46.122564
5N480R2 46.84488
5N406R2 47.288423
P4588RY 47.58291

In addition to variety selection, data from research trials, numerous observations, and other anecdotal accounts indicate that tillage and/or rotation will reduce TRD incidence and mortality.  To date, there are no recommended seed treatments for taproot decline.  Ongoing research indicates that a few fungicides applied in-furrow at planting may be effective on the pathogen.  Taproot decline is soil/debris borne; therefore, avoiding spread via equipment is recommended.  More research is needed to develop and further refine management strategies for taproot decline.

For more information on these topics or others, please contact your local extension agent, specialist, nearest research station, or visit or

2018 Soybean Core Block Yield Data

2018 Soybean Core Block Yield Data published on No Comments on 2018 Soybean Core Block Yield Data

Harvest data for our soybean core block variety demonstrations have begun to come in from across the state.  The data for these 10 trials is now available on the LSU AgCenter website at the link listed below.  I will continue to update the website with incoming data from the remaining trials.

Preliminary OVT data is also beginning to come in and is currently being analyzed before being made available to stakeholders.  This information will also be available on the LSU AgCenter website when ready.


Check Soils for Compaction Layers

Check Soils for Compaction Layers published on No Comments on Check Soils for Compaction Layers

Check Soils for Compaction Layers

Josh Copes, Dennis Burns, R.L. Frazier, and Dan Fromme


Over the past couple of growing season, soil compaction has been a hindrance in many fields across Louisiana.  Soil compaction was evident by observing reduced crop growth and development in fields and confirmed by inserting a penetrometer into the soil. Soil compaction is the compression of soil particles that reduces pore space thus creating a dense layer of soil that can impede plant root growth. Soil compaction can be caused by heavy machinery traffic and horizontal tillage operations when the soil is too saturated. There have been instances where a deep vertical till implement was used to alleviate a soil compaction layer only to create a new one, less than four inches deep in the row middle, when the rows were rebedded. This was probably a result of rebedding when the soil was too wet. Soil compaction reduces crop rooting ability, restrict water infiltration rate, reduces the volume of soil that plant root will be able to mine essential nutrients, and ultimately can reduce yield.

Machinery size is steadily increasing and will only lead to more frequent soil compaction issues. Silt loam soils are typically prone to compaction. There is perhaps a misconception that shrink and swell type clay soils are not prone to compaction layers due to being “deep broke” as they crack open during periods of drought. Regardless soil compaction layers have been observed in cracking clay soils. Fields where soil compaction could be an issue can be identified by visual observation where a reduction in crop growth rate is evident, early season nutrient deficiency symptoms occur, wilting of crops in certain areas of the field and not in others. Compactions areas can especially be identified during periods of cool weather early in the growing season where the crop develops at a reduced rate compared with the rest of the field with a similar soil type.

You can test for compaction layers by simply probing the soil (tops of beds/rows) in several areas within a field using a soil penetrometer. In order to mark the depth of the compaction zone, push the penetrometer down to the compacted zone and place a finger where the probe meets the soil surface. As a guideline, use the penetrometer when there is sufficient soil moisture for planting. Also, make sure that deeper soil compaction layers are not present. To avoid soil compaction limit field operations when soils are too wet. This can be difficult in Louisiana but creating hardpans will reduce yield. Deep vertical tillage is the fastest method to alleviate soil compaction layers. Deep or tap rooted winter cover crops can also help loosen a compacted soil over time and may help prevent a compaction layer from occurring by increasing soil organic matter and maintaining soil structure.

Below are some photos taken this year in fields with compaction layers. Fields with soil compaction layers should be identified and deep broke this fall when soil moisture conditions are favorable to lift the soil so the hardpan can be disrupted. If you have any questions or concerns please give us a call.


















Photo 1. J-Rooted Cotton due to Soil Compaction Layer


 Photo 2. Soil Penetrometer Reading at Field of Photo 1. Reading is over 300 lb psi.



















Photo   3. Depth of Soil Compaction Layer in Field of Photo 1.




















Photo 4. Root Restriction on Macon Ridge Silt Loam Loess Soil. Photo courtesy of Hank Jones.

Winter Cover Crops: Planning for Cover Crop Success

Winter Cover Crops: Planning for Cover Crop Success published on No Comments on Winter Cover Crops: Planning for Cover Crop Success

Winter Cover Crops: Planning for Cover Crop Success

Josh Copes, James Hendrix, Lisa Fultz, Syam Dodla, and Naveen Adusumilli


Crop harvest is in full swing across most of Louisiana. As we move into October, now is the time to begin planning your winter cover crop management strategy. Cover crops are used for several purposes including: protecting soil from erosion, improving soil structure, scavenging and cycling of soil nutrients, increasing organic matter, helping to alleviate hardpans, etc. Cover crop selection will depend on the goals a producer would like to accomplish by planting a winter cover crop. Having a clear objective for planting a cover crop, will also aid in cover crop management.  For example, if minimizing soil erosion is the main objective, selecting a cereal cover crop, would be a good choice. The fibrous root system of cereals will help prevent top-soil from leaving the field. Cereal winter covers are good nutrient scavengers as well. In contrast, a tap-rooted cover crop like forage/tillage radish is better suited for deep nutrient scavenging and potentially aids in loosening a soil compaction layer or preventing one. Mixes of cereal and legume covers can reduce early season N fixation issues in corn. Preliminary data collected by AgCenter scientists has shown that in soybean, legume cover crops can supply N for early growth needs until nodules develop. Other important considerations when selecting a winter cover crop includes: cash crop to be grown following cover crop termination, and winter cover crop termination. Be sure to plant only quality seed, this will help eliminate weed seed contamination issues. Seeding rates should be adjusted for germination percentage or pure live seed per pound. When planting legumes, make sure the rhizobium inoculant strain is correct for the legume that is to be planted and always inoculate. If planting pre-inoculated legume seed be sure to get pure live seed per pound and adjust seeding rates accordingly; some pre-inoculated seed are larger and therefore have less pure live seed per pound.

Cover crops should be planted as soon as possible following main crop harvest. When planted earlier in the fall, growth/biomass production will be maximized prior to cold weather which will slow growth and development of the cover crop. Planting your cover crop soon after harvest, is especially important if corn will be planted. Early cover crop termination, when planting corn, combined with late planting of a cover crop (November) will reduce overall biomass production, therefore minimizing the benefits of the cover crop. Legumes are generally slow growing if planted too late (November), and biomass production will be minimal prior to the onset of cold weather. If fields are enrolled in a NRCS conservation program, that requires cover crops, be sure to follow the NRCS’s cover crop guidelines. Below is a link that contains NRCS seeding rates and planting dates for common cover crops grown in Louisiana. The planting window for most winter cover crops will be October 1 to mid-November. Ranges for average first frost dates for Monroe, Shreveport, Alexandria, and Baton Rouge are November 15, 18, 19, and 29th, respectively ( Posted below, hyper link 2 and 3 are some useful tools may aid in further refinement of accomplishing the intended goals for your farm.


  1. NRCS planting dates and seeding rates for common cover crops grown in Louisiana:


  1. Cover Crop and Tillage Scenarios (Potential Scenarios and their implications on incentives payments.):


  1. Q & A of Conservation Policy and Crop Insurance Surrounding Cover Crops:


  1. Cover Crop Economics Decision Tool:



Contact Information:


Josh Copes

Cell: 318-334-0401

Office: 318-766-4607


James Hendrix

Cell: 318-235-7198

Office: 318-766-4607


Lisa Fultz

Cell: 225-366-8863

Office: 225-578-1344


Syam Dodla

Cell: 225-505-7064

Office: 318-741-7430


Naveen Adusumilli

Cell: 318-884-0514

Office: 225-578-2727

Don’t Neglect Fall Weed Management

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Don’t Neglect Fall Weed Management

Josh Copes, Daniel Stephenson, Donnie Miller, and Lauren Lazaro


Trends in earlier crop harvest has resulted in adequate time for weeds to set seed between harvest and a killing frost. This time period can range from one to four months. The average first frost date in North and Central Louisiana is November 15 and 19, respectively. Since a lot of money and effort is spent in controlling weeds during the growing season to negate yield loss, timely weed control practices following harvest is important. The objective of post-harvest weed management is to reduce viable seed return to the soil seedbank, thus ensuring fewer weeds to fight in future cropping seasons. Post-harvest weed control is especially important in fields containing herbicide resistant weeds. A good example to illustrate the importance of post-harvest weed management is the ability of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth to produce mature seed in as little as 30 days after emergence during late summer and early fall. Many other grass and broadleaf weeds are capable of setting viable seed in a similar time frame. Some common weeds infesting fields after harvest include barnyardgrass, morningglory species, prickly sida/teaweed, browntop millet, Palmer amaranth, and waterhemp. Special attention should be made to ditch banks and other non-cropland areas infested with Palmer amaranth and/or waterhemp, since their seed is easily spread in water.

For weeds present in the field at harvest time, mowing and/or tillage should be conducted as soon as possible upon harvest to ensure viable seed set is reduced. Very little time will be required for these weeds to set a substantial amount of seed. Rainfall will influence subsequent germination of weed seed and therefore the need for additional weed control. Furthermore, rainfall following cultivation could increase weed seed germination, however, if the weeds are controlled, the soil seedbank would be reduced. Producers in no-till systems will have to rely on mowing and herbicides to prevent weed seed production.

In a stale-seedbed production system, herbicide applications should be targeted from late-September through October when the time period from application to first killing frost is shortened. In minimum tillage systems, or where weeds emerge after field prep operations, herbicides should be applied before or shortly after flowering. This implies that weeds will be large and more difficult to control, and therefore water volume should be maximized to ensure good weed coverage, as this is critical for good weed control. Multiple post-harvest herbicide applications for control of summer annual weeds should be avoided, so as to minimize herbicide selection pressure that can lead to herbicide-resistance. Utilizing multiple effective modes of action will help minimize selection pressure, e.g. 2,4-D plus glyphosate or glufosinate plus 2,4-D etc. Herbicide choice should depend on weed species present in the field. Some soil residual herbicides can be applied in the fall following harvest. However, rotation interval restrictions must be followed and length of residual control will be influenced by soil temperature and saturation. Do not expect winter long weed control from soil residual herbicides applied from August to early October. Likewise, the lack of rainfall to properly activate residual herbicides can negatively impact treatment effectiveness.

Fall herbicide applications can be effective for control of perennial weed species such as johnsongrass, bermudagrass, alligatorweed, and redvine. Johnsongrass escapes are becoming more apparent across the state. Studies conducted by LSU AgCenter weed scientists have determined that fall applications should be made from September 15 to October 15 when environmental conditions favor weed growth ( For johnsongrass, bermudagrass and alligatorweed control, 1.0 lb ai/acre of glyphosate should be applied. Two lb ai/acre of glyphosate or dicamba are effective control options for redvine. Glyphosate (2.0 lb ai/acre) plus dicamba (1.0 lb ai/acre) can also be an effective control option. Fields should be scouted the fall following herbicide application to determine whether an additional application is needed. Do not mow or till fields for several weeks following herbicide application.


Some weeds are capable of setting viable seed within 30 days after emergence during late summer and early fall. Post-harvest weed control is especially important when combatting glyphosate-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, or johnsongrass. Problem fields should be identified and receive top priority for preventing seed return to the soil seedbank. Once harvested these problem fields should be mowed or tilled shortly after harvest to prevent and/or reduce seed set. Fields should then be regularly scouted for emerging weeds and additional control tactics applied prior to seed set. This will require close inspection of weed species to determine when they are flowering. Once a weed species is observed flowering a weed control operation should be implemented. Depending on weather conditions following harvest, weed control tactics may need to be implemented approximately every 3 to 4 weeks until a killing frost has occurred. If glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth or waterhemp is an issue, a management tactic (i.e. mowing, tillage, herbicide application) should be employed every 3 to 4 weeks. Budgets are typically tight in the fall and spending additional money on weed control when no crops are in the field is difficult, but by identifying fields in need of post-harvest weed management and by implementing field prep in a timely, well-spaced manner can go a long way in reducing future weed numbers in your fields. Below are a list of herbicides labeled for use following main crop harvest and for non-cropland use (ditch banks etc.). Always read and follow label guidelines and restrictions.

If you have any questions please contact us or your local county agent.

Josh Copes

Cell: 318-334-0401

Office: 318-766-4607


Donnie Miller

Cell: 318-614-4044

Office: 318-766-4607


Daniel Stephenson

Cell: 318-308-7225

Office: 318-473-6590


Lauren Lazaro

Cell: 210-562-0878

Office: 225-578-2724


Herbicides Labeled for Post-harvest Weed Control

Glufosinate – Liberty 280 SL

Enlist Duo

Glyphosate – Roundup PowerMax



Gramoxone 2 SL



2,4-D LV4 and 2,4-D Amine





Prowl H2O



Dual II Magnum – Italian Ryegrass (Sept.1 to Dec. 1)






Herbicides Labeled for Non-Cropland Areas/Farmstead Use









Prowl H2O




Roundup PowerMax