Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

East-Central and Southeast Iowa Crop Information


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May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007




To Cut or Not to Cut?


There is an ongoing debate about whether or not hay should be cut at the normal calendar date, given the stress placed on the crop as a result of the cold weather in April.  Unfortunately, there is not a clear answer.


For producers who do not have dairy, the priority is most likely stand longevity.  These producers should probably cut the hay a week or two later than normal.  This will allow the plants to more fully recover before the first cutting is made.  Subsequent cuttings will be pushed back on the calendar, which may pose complications in the fall as we do not want to cut hay between the first week in September and the last week of October in order to, again, promote stand longevity.


For producers whose priority is high quality (dairy) forage, the crop needs to be made on time because quality declines with time.  These producers will need to “take their lumps” in terms of stand longevity.


Complicating the issue is that some fields are experiencing extensive leaf disease injury.  Normally the recommendation for those fields would be to cut early to retain as much of the leafy material as possible.  However, because of the stress of April, producers who are more concerned with stand longevity than with first-cutting hay quality may opt to not follow the normal recommendation and harvest later instead.






Nitrogen Losses


With the warm fall and early winter followed by generally abundant rainfall this early spring, many are asking, “How much of the nitrogen applied last fall was lost?”  John Sawyer discussed that question on pages 148 – 149 of the May 14 issue of the Integrated Crop Management Newsletter, which is posted at  Use of the late spring soil nitrate test may help answer the question.



Late Spring Soil Nitrate Test


We are approaching the time to be pulling soil samples for the late spring soil nitrate test. Soil samples should be pulled to a one foot depth when the corn is 6-12” tall. It is best to use a systematic method rather than a random method to pull the samples. Pull the first sample in the corn row, the next 1/8 of the distance between rows, the next the distance between rows, etc. until you have worked your way across the rows. Do this at least twice for a total of 16 cores. This way you won’t by chance happen to be over or under representing areas that have higher bands of nitrogen (ie anhydrous bands, manure bands, starter fertilizer). Soil samples should be sent to a lab immediately after sampling. Results can help to fine-tune nitrogen management. For more details see the publication “Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn in Iowa” at for more details.






CCA CREDIT OPPORTUNITY – June 21 – SE Iowa Research & Demonstration Farm


Earn 5 CCA credits, including 2 in soil and water management, by attending a special CCA session the morning of June 21, followed by the annual spring field day at the southeast Iowa Research & Demonstration Farm near Crawfordsville. Watch as details emerge.



If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Iowa State University Extension Office.
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Last Update: May 21, 2007
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