What’s Your Corn Nutrient Strategy for 2018?

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Be sure you’re adequately nourishing your hybrids from planting through all critical growth stages by mapping out your corn nutrient strategy now. Here are some tips to help get your corn plants off to a strong start.
 
1. Ensure proper hybrid placement.
The first step in setting up plants for success is placing hybrids correctly. Work with your agronomist to identify hybrid-specific data, including response to soil type, response to nitrogen, response to crop rotation and response to population, so you can place hybrids appropriately.
 
2. Plant seed at the correct depth; be choosy about soil conditions.
I recommend planting corn at a depth of 1¾ inches. In many parts of the country, corn seed can be subjected to wide variances in spring temperatures in that first inch of soil. Temperatures tend to be slightly more consistent below a 1-inch soil depth. Planting in proper soil conditions helps establish ideal seed-to-soil contact, water imbibition and proper initiation of root growth.
 
3. Use a nitrogen stabilizer.
If you have planted a hybrid with a high response-to-nitrogen score, not only is it important to manage nitrogen season-long, but also to use a nitrogen stabilizer to protect the investment in your seed and your fertilizer program. Talk with your agronomist about what stabilizer would work best with your program and what the proper application timing would be.
 
4. Use a starter fertilizer for a preemergent nutrient boost.
Encourage emergence at planting with an in-furrow application of a phosphorus starter. Phosphorus is immobile in the soil and hard for a plant to get into its root system, so in some cases a phosphorus fertilizer enhancer may be used to optimize uptake. Applying phosphorus in the spring gets it right next to the root zone to optimize that initial uptake. A balanced starter can also promote emergence. There are many starter fertilizers on the market; talk with your agronomist about which one best fits your program.
 
5. Apply a plant growth regulator.
Apply a plant growth regulator (PGR) to promote a larger root system, which can result in quicker and more efficient nutrient uptake, faster emergence and stronger stalks. Not any PGR will do the trick, so be sure to talk with your agronomist about the right one for your fields. PGR applications can be especially beneficial to your early-planted hybrids to help set them up for success.
 
6. Use hybrid-specific data and tissue sampling for in-season nutrient management.
To be certain you’re getting the necessary nutrients into the plant from emergence through vegetative growth stages, combine in-season imagery (ISI) with tissue sampling. Response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores can also be used to help determine how each hybrid may respond to these types of applications.
 
7. Employ precision ag to target nutrient placement.
Use soil samples, past yield maps and ISI to identify areas where yield potential may be falling behind or poised to increase. After that, well-timed tissue and/or soil sampling can indicate key nutrient levels so you know exactly where, when and how much product should be applied.
 
Talk with your agronomist about putting similar practices to work in your fields this spring.
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