High-priced nitrogen will jeopardize corn production profits this year, says Kent Thiesse of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

"The price increase will add $15-20 per acre to production costs for this year's crop," says Thiesse. "With prices also up for fuel and other inputs, it's hard to project a profit on corn in 2001."

Thiesse recommends the following strategies: - Fine-tune N rates. Do a soil nitrate test and consider using a nitrification inhibitor such as N-Serve or alternative sources of N like urea or 28%.

- Consider using livestock manure. A thousand gallons of liquid hog manure can contain 35-40 lbs of N. Test the manure before applying it.

- If you haven't applied any N, consider switching some acres to soybeans.

"However, switching corn acres to soybeans may be a high-risk strategy," says Thiesse. "Continuous soybeans tend to have a higher incidence of soybean cyst nematode, disease and insect problems that could reduce yields. Also, if there is a large switch from corn to soybean acres nationwide, soybean prices could weaken and corn prices could strengthen."