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

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

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More