In the U.S. and Europe, maize is known as corn, and growing it at home can be both challenging and rewarding. Just as with growing any other plants at home, using fertiliser on maize plants can be the key to bringing up healthy corn plants all the way to harvest time. Designing a fertilisation schedule for your maize plants takes only a few steps.
Fertiliser Recommendations for Maize
Knowing how often to apply a certain fertiliser is of value only when you know what kind of fertiliser would be most beneficial to the maize plants. Fertiliser choices should always be based primarily on soil tests that indicate the unique fertility of the soil, but in general, maize responds well to balanced fertiliser such as 10-10-10, 2-1-1 and 1-1-1.
At planting time, one of the types of fertiliser described above is often applied as a "starter" around maize plants. Maize also benefits from a side-dress application after the plants have become partly established. When maize plants are 16 to 18 inches high, side-dress with a fertiliser rich in nitrogen such as ammonium nitrate or nitrate of soda.
Nitrogen and Corn
Generally speaking, nitrogen is one of the most important plant growth elements. But nitrogen is of even greater importance for maize. Many soils that support maize plants will naturally have enough potassium and phosphorus for healthy corn growth, but nitrogen is the "most yield-limiting nutrient," in the words of Colorado State University's guide to growing corn. Nitrogen management is therefore a primary responsibility of any maize grower, and the most effective way to manage nitrogen levels in corn is through the use of fertilisers.
Over-fertilisation by using either too much fertiliser in one application or fertilising too often can often have more deleterious effects in maize plants than under-fertilisation. These possible health effects highlight the reason it is so important to have soil tested before choosing a fertiliser for maize. A healthy maize harvest requires not an abundance of nitrogen but rather a good balance of nitrogen and other plant growth nutrients in the soil. Adding nitrogen to an already nitrogen-rich soil can have the same yield-limiting effects as not fertilising at all.