ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Best Fertilizer for Corn

Updated on June 10, 2015
Source

Corn (Zea mays) is a nitrogen-intensive crop. If you are growing one of the new varieties of corn, one that has extra large ears, or one that is super sweet, you will probably find that it needs more nitrogen than an heirloom variety would. But all corn needs some nitrogen at planting and at tasseling to encourage growth and to keep the leaves green and healthy. Corn is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 though 11.

Conventional Fertilizers

Before fertilizing with conventional fertilizers, make sure you get a soil test. Adding too much fertilizer will not only waste your money, it can damage your corn. If you are interested in whether your soil has enough nitrogen to grow corn, wait until the weather warms up to growing temperatures to take your soil sample. Plant available nitrogen increases as the soil temperature increases. Tell the testing lab that you want to grow corn and ask for their recommendations.

If you are growing in an area where corn typically grows well, if you are growing a non-organic garden, and if you don't feel the need for the specificity of a soil test, any high-nitrogen commercial fertilizer will probably work fine. A complete 12-12-12 fertilizer will have enough nitrogen for most corn patches. However, according to Ed Billingsley of the University of Illinois Extension, ammonium nitrate and urea are better nitrogen sources than complete fertilizers. If you have chronic problems with your corn yellowing, you may want to try them. Apply ammonium nitrate or urea at the rate of 1 cup per 100 feet of row. If you want to use 12-12-12, apply it at about 3 pounds per 100 feet of row.

Cottonseed meal
Cottonseed meal | Source

Organic Fertilizers

Ammonium nitrate and urea aren't organic fertilizers. If you want your garden to be an organic one, you'll need a different source of nitrogen. A complete organic fertilizer is one good option. A 6-2-0 or 6-5-3 will have the nitrogen you need. If you want to use organic amendments instead of a complete fertilizer, bloodmeal contains about 15 percent nitrogen, cottonseed meal about 7 percent, and soybean meal about 7 percent. The label on the packaging will tell you how much fertilizer to use. Apply it before you plant, when the corn is knee high, and when it begins to produce silk.

Home-Grown Fertilizers

If you don't want to purchase fertilizer, you can grow some or all of your own nitrogen. Cheryl Long and Barbara Pleasant of "Mother Earth News" recommend using nitrogen fixing plants. The autumn before you plan to plant corn, plant some hairy vetch, alfalfa or another nitrogen-fixing legume. Chop them down in the spring just as they begin to flower and plant your corn into the stubble. The nitrogen clinging to the roots will be enough to get the corn started. Fresh grass clippings collected in the spring from a fertilized lawn contain 5 percent or more nitrogen. If you keep a one or two inch layer around your corn, not only will it provide nitrogen, it will help retain moisture and will keep some of the weeds down.

Manure is also a good home-grown source of nitrogen. Most lawn and garden stores sell composted manure. If you can find a local source of manure, you can process it yourself. Use manure from herbivores or chickens. Cat and dog manure contains pathogens that might cause food-borne illness. Compost the manure with a carbon-rich material like straw or sawdust. Composting will heat the manure, which will kill weed seeds and harmful bacteria. You should compost your manure for at least three months before using it.

Chickens have especially nitrogen-rich manure, but chicken manure can burn plants if it is not handled correctly. If you compost it thoroughly, and your compost pile heats up well, you shouldn't have any problems. If you doubt your composting abilities, age chicken manure a full year before using it.

Rabbit manure is also high in nitrogen, more so than either cow or horse manure. It also doesn't need to be composted if you mix it well with the surrounding soil. If you want to be sure that the bad bacteria in your rabbit manure are dead, it doesn't hurt the manure to compost it.

Well-composted manure
Well-composted manure | Source

Complete Fertilizers

You know that your corn will always need nitrogen. It might need other nutrients as well. A soil test will tell you if your soil needs potassium or phosphorus in addition to nitrogen. If your corn leaves are green in the center and yellow on the edges, your soil might be low in potassium. On the other hand, if your soil is low in phosphorus, your corn will have trouble putting out a healthy root structure. The plants will be stunted and won't produce ears very well. If your soil test tells you you are low in either potassium or nitrogen, stick with a complete fertilizer balanced to your needs.

How to Side Dress Corn with Bloodmeal

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)