Realizing maximum yield in the fall begins with a holistic approach to nutrient management. This includes making sure phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and nitrogen (N) levels are adequate to support growth throughout the entire season and knowing how to visually identify those levels in the corn crop.
Applied nitrogen is particularly vulnerable to leaching, meaning the loss of nitrates into the groundwater, and denitrification, the escape of greenhouse gases into the environment. If a plant can’t absorb enough nitrogen through the soil, it will cannibalize its own internal sources of nitrogen — draining strength from its stalk and leaves. When that happens, weakened cornstalks, stalk rot and significantly reduced yield can result.
Three signs of nitrogen deficiency in corn to look for are:
- Firing of leaves (yellowing begins at the leaf tip and progresses along the midrib)
- Pale green plants
- Stunted growth and spindly stalks
Fields at the highest risk of nitrogen loss include fall- and preplant-applied nitrogen fields, those composed of sandy soils and fields with poor drainage.
Take time now to scout fields, evaluate your customers’ nutrient management programs and consider changes to maximize efficient nitrogen by protecting applications with a nitrogen stabilizer such as Instinct® or N-Serve®. Instinct and N-Serve help ensure that applied nitrogen is still available in the root zone for plant uptake, especially if heavy rains occurred after nitrogen was applied.