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

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
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
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More