From Agronomists of the
Potash & Phosphate Institute
655 Engineering Drive, Suite 110
Norcross, Georgia 30092-2837
Phone (770) 447-0335

Fall 1998, No. 4


The 1999 crop season begins this fall. Fertilizer applications made in the fall help build yields and profits. Fall fertilization is also environmentally friendly—there is less chance that intense rainfall events will occur following application. Most soils are ideal storehouses for nutrients like phosphorus and potassium, particularly on conservation tilled fields.

Applying fertilizer in the fall helps dealers and farmers to avoid the spring rush. Spring activities, including crop fertilization, are carried out over a restricted period of time, usually shortened even more because of bad weather conditions. In May and early June—the crunch time for getting the crop in—the average number of days for field work in the Midwest is often limited to one or two per week! Consider the acres you have to cover, number of employees and equipment available, and the tasks to be completed. Balance that with the days available and the value of fall sampling and fertilizer application becomes obvious.

Fall fertilization helps farmers and dealers use personnel more efficiently. By making use of the fall months to spread the workload, the dealership is in a better position to employ higher quality, full-time employees rather than depending on seasonal help. Fall fertilization expands the spreading season, sometimes doubling it. This allows more efficient use of equipment and people, as well as greater flexibility in ordering, storing, and applying fertilizer materials. The farmer, likewise, can reduce the need to hire extra labor by making use of fall fertilizer application.

Fall fertilization helps farmers, their advisers, and suppliers to be sure nutrients and aglime are applied when and where they are needed. If left until spring, some applications have to be skipped due to time constraints and shortages of equipment if the planting season is delayed due to wet weather. This can cause costly yield losses.

Soils tend to be drier in the fall, resulting in less rutting and compaction. Compaction destroys soil structure and cuts crop yields. Any operations that can be done easily in the fall…such as applying fertilizer and aglime…cut down on the number of days heavy equipment will need to be in the field next spring.

Applying fertilizer and aglime this fall gives phosphorus and potassium time to penetrate the root zone, to be in place and ready for next spring. It also allows aglime time to react with the soil, neutralizing acidity. As a result, higher yields can be expected because fertility will not be limiting, and soil acidity will not cut the efficiency of fertilizer nutrient use by next year’s crop. Fall fertilization provides more flexibility for site-specific nutrient management. It is the best time to apply phosphorus and potassium for soybeans. It is an important part of intensive, high yield crop production and can result in greater profits for the farmer. Time is money, and fall fertilization helps to beat the odds on delays next spring. Get a head start on the 1999 crop season with fall fertilization.


For more information, contact Dr. Harold F. Reetz, Jr., Midwest Director, PPI, 1497 N 1050 East Road, Monticello, IL 61856-9504. Phone (217) 762-2074. E-mail:
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