When preparing a fertilizer plan for corn acres, most growers focus on the makeup of their current soil profile and how much NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) is needed in the upcoming growing season.
There is one element that plays a key role in corn plant nutrition that is often overlooked: Boron. Researchers have found that boron is necessary for stimulation of root and shoot development, tassel and silk formation, movement of sugars from leaves to ears, pollen germination, pollen tube growth, and seed formation.
Boron's Role in Plants
Signs of boron deficiency in corn
Corn removes significant amounts of boron from the soil each year. The first signs of boron deficiency include irregular distribution of kernels and a general reduction in growth. This is due to poorly developed tassels and silks. Tassels are needed to pollinate the corn silks. Each silk is attached to one kernel of corn. When silks are not pollinated they will not produce a kernel.
Severe boron deficiency results in short bent cobs of corn with under-developed tips and very poor kernel development. Yellow or white spots develop between the veins on young leaves, and the spots often coalesce forming streaks. These streaks, which may be waxy and raised from the leaf surface, do not normally develop on fully grown leaves. The leaf tips may be curled. There is also a shortening of the internodes and often the young leaves fail to open.
U.S. Borax research
We are committed to ensuring that agronomists and growers are confident in the amount of boron their corn crops need. We have a long history of field research in partnership with universities and other academic institutions. Overall, we have found that boron fertilization plays a critical role in high yield situations. Including boron in your fertilizer formula can increase yields from 9 to 37 bushels of corn per acre. We always recommend tissue and soil tests before application.
U.S. Borax field trials: Corn
Boron application for corn crops
U.S. Borax offers a wide range of products to meet your specific needs.
Boron can be applied in a dry blended fertilizer, broadcast before planting, using Granubor®. In liquid suspensions, Boron may be applied before planting, banded at planting, or side dressed, using Fertibor® in suspension. Boron in liquid fertilizers may be broadcast before planting, banded at planting, side dressed, or fertigated, using Solubor®. Boron for high-yield, irrigated corn may be applied most conveniently through the irrigation system as Solubor four to six weeks after emergence in two applications up to one pound each.
For more information on boron rates for your field, contact your local agronomist or a regional U.S. Borax agriculture expert.