Maximizing Corn Yield

Given today’s high-yielding corn genetics, favorable crop prices and volatile input costs, getting the most out of every acre is more important than ever. But how do you do this efficiently and affordably? And what can we learn from the production practices of past corn yield challenge winners?

That was the subject of CropLife Media Group’s recent webinar, “In­novative Fertilizer Strategies for Max­imizing Corn Yield,” presented by Wolf Trax Director of Research and Development Mark Goodwin.

Instead of starting with the traditional areas of NPK and crop protection products, Goodwin assumed that most growers have this area well under control. Instead, he focused on the small and relatively inexpensive “tweaks” that high-performance growers can focus on to get the yield jumps. These tweaks include an often overlooked but essential nutrient: zinc.

Most growers are familiar with the concept of the “Law of the Minimum,” which states that the most limiting nutrient limits yield, regardless of how much of other nutrients you apply.

“Building yield potential is similar to building a barrel,” said Goodwin. “Each stave in the barrel represents an individual nutrient. No matter how tall the other staves are, the shortest stave determines how full the barrel can be. Zinc can sometimes be the lowest stave — or the limiting nutrient for maximum yield potential. No matter how much NPK you apply, if zinc is short, yield will only reach the amount zinc allows.”

He also noted that the barrel is changing in today’s corn production. “With recent advances in yield potential due to genetic and technological traits, the barrel has become bigger and taller,” he noted. That means bigger yields — but also an increase in overall costs (and risk) to make sure the correct nutrient balance is in place.

Get Your Zinc In Sync

Goodwin shared information from Ohio State University that showed the zinc to P ratio is especially important in maximizing yield; a ratio of 100 or 150 to 1 should be maintained. Data from the University of Minnesota showed that where soil zinc levels are low, increasing P did not result in higher yields unless zinc was applied as well.

Goodwin recommended growers using Variable-Rate Technology should increase or decrease their zinc level in tandem with their phosphorus. Wolf Trax DDP Fertilizer coating technology enables growers to meet this nutrient need efficiently and easily. Because each and every prill of fertilizer is coated with Wolf Trax Zinc DDP, the nutrient balance is easy to maintain. As P application increases, the zinc coating ensures zinc levels increase as well.

The second reasonably priced step Goodwin recommended for corn growers is to pay extra attention to their crop’s zinc needs. Several indicators can help growers check for zinc deficiency, including soil tests, tissue tests and visual deficiency symptoms of past crops. “Paying attention to zinc levels is especially important in high P soils,” he said.

What Are High Yield Growers Doing?

Lastly, Goodwin noted that traditional approaches to micronutrient application may no longer work when growers are aiming for “shoot for the moon” yields. He referenced recent corn yield challenge winners, noting their yields are consistently 100 bushels per acre higher than the national average. One production practice the majority of these growers employ is to seed early and use a fertilizer strategy designed to help the plant cope with unfriendly cool and wet soils. For these growers, use of a micronutrient package along with starter fertilizer was the key.

“Micronutrients — especially zinc — and starter fertilizer is a foundation for seeding early into cold soils,” said Goodwin.

Wolf Trax has two products that help growers achieve early zinc uptake, including Zinc DDP as a fertilizer coating, and PROTINUS, a seed-applied fertilizer. “Zinc DDP, coated on fertilizer, delivers a blanket-like coverage to the field, ensuring early plant root access as soon as it hits the N, P or K fertilizer,” said Goodwin. This compares to traditional granular zinc that is unevenly and sparsely distributed across the field, which may lead to a delay in uptake.

PROTINUS delivers a small amount of zinc directly to the seed, which is available as soon as it begins growing, resulting in earlier emergence, larger and more robust seedlings and a bigger root system. This all adds up to help the plant cope with early season stress. “The early plant health benefits of PROTINUS make it a great tool for growers hoping to seed early into cold, wet soils,” said Goodwin.

Leave a Reply

Micronutrients Stories
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
MicronutrientsReport: Demand For Zinc As Micronutrient In Agriculture Grows
May 12, 2014
Zinc is becoming more important to increasing crop yields as global population and food consumption continue to rise. Read More
Sulfur Deficiency In Corn
Micronutrients3 Key Questions For Sulfur Application
February 3, 2014
Match sulfur supply to corn crop’s needs to maximize yields and fertilizer dollars. Read More
Micronutrients11 Tips For Effective Fall Application Of Gypsum
September 26, 2013
Spreading gypsum – which often occurs in late fall, after harvest – is simple if you follow these basic steps from GYPSOIL. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesEPA Signs Off On Monsanto’s Warrant Ultra Premix
May 27, 2015
Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesSTUDY: Weed Diversity Primarily Influenced By Geography
May 27, 2015
The potential long-term impacts of glyphosate-resistant crops on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape have been the subject of controversy. A Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based …
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
EquipmentPrecision Tank Announces A&B Welding Acquisition
May 27, 2015
Precision Tank, a specialized tank and equipment manufacturer, announced today the acquisition of A&B Welding of Thompson, IA, a manufacturer Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementTraining Program Gives First Responders Skills For Grai…
May 27, 2015
When stored grain forms hard bridges, columns and other irregularities, those working to correct it find themselves at risk of Read More
Industry NewsBASF Sponsors Space Farming Research Project
May 26, 2015
Is it possible to produce large quantities of high quality vegetables on a space station, about 320 kilometers away from Read More
FertilizerTexas Ammonium Nitrate Bill Passes Senate, Heads To Gov…
May 26, 2015
The Texas State Senate gave final approval last Thursday to new regulations for ammonium nitrate, reports The Dallas Morning News Read More
Young corn plants
Industry NewsArysta Europe Details New Organizational Structure
May 26, 2015
Arysta LifeScience Europe recently announced a new organizational structure to leverage its scale and accelerate the company’s growth in this Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon …
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More