Enhanced Nutrition For High-Yield Corn

As growers continue to push yields with today’s new corn hybrids, the need for adequate nutrient availability and efficiency has never been greater. Meeting higher yield goals may very well depend on how well a grower matches up fertility applications with crop demands for essential nutrients at critical stages of growth and how well he maximizes the efficiency of the nutrients he applies.

This was the subject of a recent Specialty Fertilizer Products (SFP)-sponsored Webinar, “Corn Nutrition Needs Throughout the Growing Season.” Gary Tuxhorn, Ph.D. and technical agronomist for United Suppliers Inc., spoke on the role of nutrient functions in crop development and crop uptake from germination through tassel. Matt Werner, research coordinator for SFP, covered research trials and data on AVAIL and NutriSphere-N.

Balance Nutrient Demands With Crop Uptake

Tuxhorn’s presentation covered the primary role of the 16 essential elements in plant functions. He then focused on nutrient removal and nutrient partitioning patterns in corn for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. He pointed out that the nutrient needs of newer corn hybrids can be hard to predict due to changes in dry matter accumulation.

WEBINAR ON DEMAND: Corn Nutrition Needs Throughout The Growing Season

“In high-yielding hybrids, we are noticing that at the R6 growth stage half of the total dry matter is in grain. The other half is in the vegetative crop,” said Tuxhorn. “If you went back 30 or 40 years ago, you would have seen 40% of that dry matter in grain and 60% in the stalks. With the new hybrids, we are pushing more and more of the dry matter we are accumulating into the grain.”

Once corn hits the V5 stage it enters an exponential growth phase marked by rapid growth, increased dry matter accumulation and lengthened internodes. At the R1 and R2 stages, plants put less energy into stalk and leaf production to focus on making grain.

Tuxhorn encouraged growers to familiarize themselves with the nutrient requirements of corn so they can adequately balance nutrient demands with crop uptake at various growth stages. This eliminates waste and ensures nutrients are available at critical periods when the crop needs them most for optimal growth.

Enhance Nutrient Efficiency With The Right Tools

An important part of meeting yield goals is to make the most of applied nutrients with products that enhance their efficiency. Werner talked about two such SFP products — AVAIL and NutriSphere-N.

AVAIL helps increase the availability of applied phosphorus fertilizer by warding off positive cations like magnesium, calcium, aluminum and iron that tie up phosphorus in the soil. Werner shared results from a split-pivot trial on soybeans in Hershey, NE, where yields averaged 63 bushels per acre where untreated monoammonium phosphate (MAP) was applied, compared to 69 bushels per acre where AVAIL-treated MAP was applied.

“Overall, we have done more than 200 corn trials with both granular and liquid phosphate treated with AVAIL. We see an average yield increase of 9.6 bushels per acre with those trials,” said Werner. “A tool like this helps us improve the efficiency of the phosphorus we are applying.”

NutriSphere-N minimizes nitrogen losses in the field and maximizes available nitrogen for grain fill and the critical growth period between V6 and R1. NutriSphere-N stands apart from other products in its class because it protects against three modes of loss — volatilization, denitrification and leaching.

“We have seen an average yield increase of 12.8 bushels per acre overall with NutriSphere-N across hundreds of corn trials,” said Werner. “Growers who want to find specific trials for their area can visit SFP.com and search the performance data for localized information.”

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