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Zinc Deficiencies and Fertilization in Corn Production

Source: Pioneer Crop Insights

By Steve Butzen, Agronomy Information Manager
Pioneer Agronomy Sciences

Jan. 23, 2011 — Zinc is sufficient in most soils to supply crop needs but may be deficient in sandy soils, other low-organic soils or soils with high pH.

Of all micronutrients, zinc is the one most often deficient in corn production and most likely to elicit a yield response when applied as fertilizer. This Crop Insights describes zinc requirements, deficiency symptoms, soil and plant sampling, and fertilization practices in corn production.

Corn is more often deficient in zinc than in other micronutrients and is responsive to zinc application when deficient.

— Zinc may be deficient in sandy soils, other low-organic soils such as those with topsoil removed or soils with high pH. Seedlings may show deficiencies during cool, wet weather.

— Fields with zinc deficiency are seldom affected uniformly. Zinc deficiency symptoms also may vary from field to field.

— Because soil tests for zinc are considered among the most reliable of all micronutrients, this method is recommended most often to determine zinc sufficiency. Plant analysis also may be used.

— To correct deficiencies, several zinc sources may be used, including zinc sulfate and zinc chelates. Zinc fertilizers usually are applied in a band with starter, but also are broadcast and occasionally foliar-applied.

— The zinc source chosen should be determined by cost per unit of actual zinc, relative effectiveness of the product, method of application, soil pH and remediation strategy.

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