A recent study released by Purdue University Extension has found that modern corn hybrids take-up more nitrogen after flowering than do pre-1990 varieties. In fact, modern varieties have been found to take up as much as 27% more total nitrogen from the soil after flowering than pre-1990 hybrids.
What that means is new corn hybrids exhibit a longer N uptake window and increased soil uptake which allows N within the plant structures to remain in place, rather than rushing to fill kernels later on. This, in turn, maximizes efficiency for P&K uptake. Optimum nitrogen levels increase a plant's ability to absorb phosphorous, potassium and sulfur.
"You need to think in terms of nutrient balance. If you have a plant with more biomass and more yield, it will be taking up more nutrients in a balanced manner that shifts with plant needs and growth stages," said postdoctoral research associate Ignacio Ciampitti.
Researchers believe the increased ability of modern hybrids to take up nitrogen from the soil may one day lead to necessary increases in P&K applications. The more nutrient a plant can utilize, the less is left in the soil for the following year.
As the science of row crop production improves, insights like these are vital to our understanding of nutrient efficiency. Post emerge applications may become even more popular, as studies show a great deal of pre-emerge N can be lost before the plant really needs it at the flowering stage.
In light of this news, soil testing becomes even more important. Optimum nitrogen levels throughout the life-cycle of corn can boost yields and assist with P,K&S uptake, making healthier plants and robust returns.