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  • Author or Editor: Kelsey A. O'Reilly x
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The increase in fertilizer costs as well as environmental concerns has stimulated growers to re-evaluate their fertilizer applications to optimize nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) while maintaining crop yields and minimizing N losses. With these objectives, field trials were conducted at seven sites with five N rates (0 to 220 kg N/ha) of ammonium-nitrate applied preplant broadcast and incorporated as well as a split application treatment of 65 + 45 kg N/ha. In three contrasting years (i.e., cool/wet versus warm/dry versus average), N treatment had no observable effect on grade size distribution or brine quality. Based on the zero N control treatment, the limited yield response to fertilizer N was the result of sufficient plant-available N over the growing season. In the N budget, there was no difference between N treatments in crop N removal, but there was a positive linear relationship between N applied and the quantity of N in crop residue as well as in the soil after harvest. As expected, apparent fertilizer N recovery and N uptake efficiency were lower at 220 versus 110 kg N/ha applied preplant or split. The preplant and split applications of 110 kg N/ha were not different in yield, overall N budget, or NUE. Considering the short growing season, planting into warm soils, and the generally productive, nonresponsive soils in the region, growers should consider reducing or eliminating fertilizer N applications in machine-harvested cucumber.

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