Corn Response To Starter Fertilizer In Indiana

Starter 2×2 fertilizer in corn does not consistently increase grain yield but frequently reduces grain moisture at harvest by as much as 1.5 percentage points. Across our 52 field scale trials, there were no clear relationships between the likelihood of yield response to starter fertilizer and factors like previous crop, soil type, soil drainage, tillage system, planting date, or region of the state. However, while yield increases due to starter 2×2 fertilizer occurred less than half of the time in our trials, the potential for increased yield due to starter 2×2 fertilizer as high as 10 – 15 bu/ac makes its use attractive to consider. If you already have starter 2×2 fertilizer attachments on your planter and if you focus on traditional starter fertilizer sources (e.g., 28-0-0, 10-34-0), we believe that the use of starter 2×2 fertilizer, at 25 to 40 lbs N/ac, is a low-cost form of “crop insurance” against unpredictable soil and weather conditions at and after planting during the important stand establishment period. The higher frequency of drier grain at harvest due to starter fertilizer, and the annual cost savings that represents, adds to the attractiveness of making starter 2×2 fertilizer part of your corn production strategies.

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Figure 1. Taller plants, more biomass, and more advanced growth stage are common results of starter fertilizer use.

Figure 1. Taller plants, more biomass, and more advanced growth stage are common results of starter fertilizer use.

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