“Fall applications are largely driven by logistics and an effort to spread out the workload. If you have the equipment and manpower, it’s better to wait to apply nitrogen in the spring,” says Neal Hoss, DuPont Pioneer technical services manager. “If you don’t have the capacity for spring applications, target fields with the least amount of risk and use nitrogen inhibitors to minimize the potential loss of your nitrogen investment,” Wilson advises.

Several soil sampling techniques are available, and this year may be a good one to take a closer look at grid and zone sampling and investing in GPS technology to allow for variable rate application of N, P and K.

P and K fertilizers applied in the fall are more stable, offering less risk than fall-applied N. If you’re trying to reduce your spring workload, P and K fertilizer applications can easily be done in the fall, when weather and soil conditions are generally not as wet, which diminishes concerns about compaction.
In the upper end of the Southeast, freezing weather, perhaps some isolated ice and snow are predicted for the first full week in November.   

If weather or a late harvest delays application, avoid applying P and K on frozen or snow-covered fields due to a high risk of loss with surface runoff. In such cases, application prior to planting in the spring is just as effective, as long as soil test levels are above the very low range.

Flooding, combined with the natural movement of weed seeds is a real good reason to take a close look at fall weed control. North Carolina State Weed Scientist Wes Everman says anything growers can do to reduce the seed bank in the fall will reduce weed pressure in the spring, especially for no-till or minimum till operations.

Palmer pigweed in particular can be a big problem, if small, stunted seeds are allowed to persist after early fall harvest of spring crops. These weeds can become low growing for a while, but can still grow and produce seed, which can cause major problems in the spring, Everman says.

Conversely, he adds, don’t depend too much on winter herbicide applications to negate the need for spring burndown.

“Keeping weed populations as low as possible in the fall and winter will help, but Palmer pigweed, and other weed species also will need early attention in the spring when growers begin getting soil ready for spring 2014 crops,” the North Carolina State Specialist says.