May 21, 2024

Management tips for corn-on-corn acres

Starter fertilizer advice from Pioneer agronomist

Farmers can manage fields before, during and after planting for the best odds of success on corn-on-corn acres.

WACO, Texas — In spite of challenges, corn-on-corn acreage remains a popular choice on many farms.

Although there is a risk for reduced yields compared to rotated crops, there are more tools available to minimize losses and maintain a healthier crop, according to agronomists at Pioneer. It starts by picking the best hybrid.

Starter fertilizers are usually recommended for fields with cooler soil temperatures, no-till fields and those with high residue cover.

When placed near the developing seed, starter fertilizers provide easily accessible nutrients until soil conditions improve and an adequate root system is established.

Six Considerations

1. Starter fertilizer — small amounts of plant nutrients placed near the seed — benefits corn seedlings when growth of the nodal root system is slowed by weather, impeded by seedbed conditions, or damaged by pests or other factors.

2. If early-season stresses are sporadic in the field, starter fertilizer may help reduce uneven stand development and yield loss that often results from these conditions.

3. Research results show that starter may provide the most benefit to growers using no-till or high-residue farming systems, growers in northern states, or those with coarse-textured — sand or silt — soils or other soils testing low in P.

4. Growers who routinely plant very early in cold, wet soils may potentially benefit.

5. Research shows that starter fertilizer will not always increase corn grain yields and would be particularly inconsistent when conventional tillage is used on moderately or well-drained soils testing high for P and K.

6. Higher corn prices and changes in farming practices may create new roles for starter fertilizers.

Because nutrients are so important to corn-on-corn acres, nitrogen stabilizers may also be needed, said Ron Joiner, Pioneer field agronomist.

The greatest nitrogen losses through denitrification generally occur in the spring when rain is most frequent and nitrogen uptake is relatively low.

Rescue or sidedress applications will most likely be needed, too.

“Corn uses about 40% of its nitrogen post-tassel,” Joiner said. “Anything we can do to spread out nutrient applications and make more available for grain fill benefits the crop overall.”

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor