Top dress if deficiencies are likely

December 1, 2014

KEY PRACTICE: In Western Canada where the growing season is short, the ideal practice is to apply all fertilizer at the time of seeding. However, if shortages are expected or crops are showing deficiencies, soil-applied applications of nitrogen or sulphur fertilizer after emergence will likely provide an economic benefit.

KEY RESEARCH: Guy Lafond, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “Post Emergent Options for N Fertilization in Western Canada for Wheat and Canola” Manitoba Agronomists Conference proceedings, 2004, pp. 35-40.

S.S. Malhi, AAFC. “Restoring canola yield by applying suphur fertilizer during the growing season,” Lee, D.W. (Ed.), Agrium Symposium: Sulfur Fertility and Fertilizers, Agrium New Products R & D, Calgary, pp. 51-55.


Spring applied fertilizer, ideally applied at the time of seeding in a one-pass system, is generally considered the most timely and economical for Western Canada. Cindy Grant, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Brandon, MB, tested various nitrogen products and application timings and found that urea applied at the time of seeding achieved yields equal to or better than the same rates applied in a split application (some at seeding, some as an in-season top dress.) In a study titled “Post Emergent Options for N Fertilization in Western Canada for Wheat and Canola,” AAFC research scientist Guy Lafond concluded that, when moisture is adequate at seeding, the best practice is to apply all fertilizer at the time of seeding rather than use a split application with some at seeding and the rest added as a top dress.

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