Knowledge Center for Agriculture Solutions | Koch Agronomic Services
Knowledge Center for Agriculture Solutions | Koch Agronomic Services
A Guide to Nitrogen Deficiency in Corn
Article Categories: Blog Icon BLOG, US, CANADA, Nutrient Management
Nitrogen is one of the most critical nutrients for a corn crop and plays a large role in plant growth, development and yield potential. Depending on several environmental factors, nitrogen can be lost to from the rooting zone of the crop which can lead to a nitrogen deficiency.

Insufficient amounts of available nitrogen can lead to reduced vegetative growth and reduction in photosynthetic capacity contributing factors in overall yield potential. 

Causes of Nitrogen Deficiency 

As a corn plant grows throughout the season, the amount of nitrogen available to the crop can vary significantly due to several environmental factors including the following:  

  • The soil lacks enough nutrients, i.e. low fertility level or nutrient losses
  • The soil has sufficient nutrients, but conditions restrict the availability to the crops. This could include low rainfall totals, extreme pH, placement issues, and microbial immobilization. 
  • Conditions could also impact the plants ability to absorb adequate nutrients. This could include early growth, low temperatures, compaction, herbicide injury, root diseases and very high plant growth rates. 

Depending on the N fertilizer source and application method, a crop could be at even higher risk for developing a nitrogen deficiency. For example, fields that are applied using pre-plant nitrogen without a nitrogen stabilizer or UAN broadcast applications that are unprotected combined with heavy rainfall can contribute to greater nitrogen loss. 

If a grower was to face these situations throughout the season, they may notice symptoms of deficiency. For younger plants, nitrogen deficiency may be apparent in stunted or spindly growth of the plant, with an overall pale yellow or yellowish-green color. For older plants, later in the growing season, older leaves turn the same pale yellow or yellowish-green color in an inverted V-shape. It starts at the leaf-tip, progressing down the mid-rib of the leaf. The image below is an example of late season nitrogen deficiency. 

Impacts of Nitrogen Deficiency

Since nitrogen is mobile in the plant and can be re-mobilized from older tissue to support new growth or reproduction, the plant will begin to absorb nitrogen from its leaves or stalks in order to produce an ear if nitrogen is not available during critical growth stages. This is called cannibalization. This is why deficiency symptoms on more mature plants appear on the older growth. Because of this, stalks weaken and become at-risk for lodging or stalk rot, compromising the plant and yield potential. Ultimately, inadequate levels of nitrogen can lead to reduced yield and grain quality, impacting a grower’s bottom line.  

Protection Against Nitrogen Deficiency

While it may be difficult or not even an option to correct a nitrogen deficiency due to crop height field conditions, economics, etc., a grower can always plan for next year. The use of a nitrogen stabilizer can help mitigate risks of nitrogen loss, including those associated with high-risk applications and environmental factors. 

  • CENTURO® nitrogen stabilizer is designed to protect against leaching and denitrification losses and can be used with UAN and anhydrous applications. The nitrification inhibitor found in CENTURO helps keep nitrogen in the ammonium form longer than untreated nitrogen fertilizer. 
  • ANVOL® nitrogen stabilizer is a urease inhibitor, with the active ingredient Duromide, that delivers the longest-lasting ammonia volatilization protection over a wider range of soil environments. ANVOL can be used with both urea and UAN.
  • SUPERU® is a finished fertilizer product that has both a urease and nitrification inhibitor uniformly integrated throughout every granule, protecting against volatilization, leaching and denitrification.  

Be proactive and protect your nitrogen. Growers know all too well many things are out of their control – provide peace of mind with protection from a nitrogen stabilizer. 

To learn more about KAS solutions and how to prevent nitrogen deficiency, contact your KAS representative today.

Article Categories: Blog Icon BLOG, US, CANADA, Nutrient Management
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