Boron applications for increased yields of high-yield field corn and sweet corn

Boron applications for increased yields of high-yield field corn and sweet corn

  • Boron is essential for all plant growth. It aids in the transfer of sugars and nutrients from leaves to reproductive organs, and increases pollination and seed development.
  • Corn requires a supply of available boron, especially during tasseling and silking. Where needed, a preplant application of Granubor® 2 or a foliar spray of Solubor® prior to these stages of growth generally will ensure an adequate supply of boron.
  • Only certain varieties of field corn under high-yield conditions – and some sweet corn varieties – may respond to applied boron, especially on sandy soils in high rainfall regions, or with adverse weather conditions during the critical stages of tasseling and silking.
  • In order to avoid toxicity, application rates of boron and methods should be followed.
Corn requires a high fertility soil for optimum production. Well-drained soils with a good supply of organic matter which have been well fertilized and limed over several years will generally produce the highest grain yields.

Cell wall strength, cell division, seed development and sugar transport are plant functions of B. While B requirements for optimum plant nutrition are low as compared with those of the primary nutrients, the need for B is especially significant during tasseling and silking stages.

Deficiency symptoms
The most common B-deficiency symptom is small, misshapen cobs with missing kernels, resulting in significantly decreased yields. Under cases of extreme B deficiency, the leaves also may have small white dead spots, streaking, and be brittle.

Soil tests and plant analyses
Boron deficiencies may occur on coarse-textured soils where organic matter content is low, on soils with a pH above 6.0, and on recently limed soils.

Soil testing and plant analyses are both helpful in assessing the potential B-supplying capacity of the soil and the current B status of the growing plant.

The critical level of hot-water-soluble B for corn in most soils ranges from 0.2 to 0.5 ppm, depending on the soil pH, organic matter content and texture. Corn grown on soils that are lower than the critical level may respond to applied B, depending on the variety and the weather conditions during the critical stages of reproduction.

The critical level of B in the upper mature corn leaves is about 5 ppm, but the usual leaf-B range is 10-20 ppm.
Corn plants with leaf B contents below the critical level should be sprayed with Solubor® before tasseling and silking.

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Recommendations for corn
Yield responses to applied B may be inconsistent and seasonal, probably due to environmental effects on crop growth. However, yields of some varieties of high-yield field corn and sweet corn may be improved with B fertilization, especially on sandy soils in high rainfall regions, or with over-irrigation because soluble B can be easily leached from the root zone. Adverse weather conditions also can decrease the supply of available B in soil and/or B uptake by the plant during the critical stages of tasseling and silking. Response to applied B generally is greatest when there are adequate supplies of other nutrients.

Data below show increased corn yields with a sidedressed application of B with high potassium fertilization on a sandy soil. Other studies have reported corn yield increases with foliar sprays of 1.25 lbs. of Solubor®/acre prior to tasseling.

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