Corriher said producers should stay on top of nutrient management for consistent production and emphasized that soils should maintain a balanced nutrient profile. She said some managers might try to decrease or eliminate one nutrient to save money. “But balance is important. Leaving out either one of the three primary nutrients will affect production, if soil test recommendations call for all three.”

Proper nitrogen application rates are important to meet production goals. With improved bermudagrass for hay production, Corriher said 100 pounds of nitrogen is needed per acre for each cutting. For grazing, 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre, applied up to three times a year may be necessary.

“To establish bermudagrass, apply 40 pounds of nitrogen per acre and after sprigs are established and growing, add another 50 pounds per acre to enhance establishment for one cutting the first year.”

She said improved bermudagrass, such as Tifton 85, may have “heavier nutrient demand because of higher yield and quality potential. Common bermuda or seeded bermudagrass may have lower fertility requirements but yield and quality will be lower.”

One application per year, at planting, should be sufficient for phosphorus and potassium. She recommends a split application of nitrogen to decrease nitrogen loss. “Split application increases yield by 5 percent to 10 percent and increase nutrient use efficiency by 25 percent to 30 percent. It’s also an advantage during extreme conditions.” Split applications reduce the risk of leaching, volatization, late freeze or drought.”

Corriher said current high fertilizer prices might tempt some producers to cut back on fertility. “Don’t eliminate one specific nutrient and rely on a soil analysis to get better information about what’s available and what can be reduced. If you must cut back, do so uniformly, not just one nutrient. Don’t apply just nitrogen if the analysis calls for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.”

She said soil pH plays a significant role in forage production and affects fertility rates. At a pH of 7, for instance, producers need 70 pounds of nitrogen, 30 pounds of phosphorus and 60 pounds of potassium. At 5.5, that changes to 52, 15 and 45.