A good fertility program can help crops thrive, even when weather is challenging.

Crop canopy is one of the many important happenings during the rapid growth phase, helping with weed control and moisture retention.

Westfield, IN (May 7, 2024) – Like a child going through a growth spurt, a corn plant requires a lot of nutrition during its rapid growth phase. In fact, a plant can take up 50% to 60% of its nitrogen needs during that V7 to tasseling stretch, says AgriGold Agronomist Sam McCord.

A lot happens during the phase. Corn plants are adding many leaves and lengthening internodes within the stalk, root systems are going gangbusters, and the plant is determining how many kernels it’ll have down each row. Adequate and balanced nutrition is especially critical during this period of rapid growth.

Level-set before the season begins

Setting yourself up for success through the rapid growth time frame starts before seed goes in the ground. “Start with a soil test,” McCord recommends. “That gives a baseline on what’s available in the soil that you can build on through the season.”

It’s also important to set an attainable yield goal. “If you have an idea of where you want to be, it can help you determine the amount of nutrients you need to apply to reach that goal,” McCord says. “Understanding what your ground can produce, what nutrients you have to begin with and what you need to add to hit that target will help you reach that goal.”

Position crops to overcome weather challenges

Ideally, temperatures during the rapid growth period will be around 86 F during the day to encourage rapid growth and cool off to the 60s overnight, giving it a chance to reset, McCord says. That, plus adequate moisture, will help the crop thrive.

Obviously, you can’t control the weather. But a good fertility program can help compensate for stressful conditions — such as if drought moves in.

“A plant takes up nutrients with water. If it’s lacking a certain nutrient, it will pull in a lot of water as it tries to find more of that nutrient,” McCord explains. “If soils have balanced and abundant fertility for the plant to take up, it will use water a lot more efficiently.”

McCord typically recommends applying half to two-thirds of intended fertility ahead of or shortly after planting. “That gives you a window to come back and sidedress or make a post-application later in the season,” he says. “It also gives you the flexibility to adjust your nutrient applications if detrimental weather hurts your stand and lowers your yield goals.”

Macros and micros of note

Corn plants take up an abundance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium during the rapid growth phase, McCord says, adding that sulfur and zinc also play important roles.

“You want to be as efficient as possible with each nitrogen application. Whenever a nitrogen application occurs, I like to see sulfur go on with it,” McCord says. Sulfur improves nitrogen utilization and nitrogen stabilization, which ultimately helps yields.

Another important micronutrient when it comes to nitrogen utilization is molybdenum. He explains, “You don’t need a big amount, but if you can apply it with your nitrogen, you should. It can improve efficiency and uptake.”

Are nutrients accessible to your corn crop?

Farmers also need to think through the nutrient balance. “Balance is one of the most challenging things to understand and apply,” McCord says, noting there are some that interact and others that do not work well together.

“A soil test can give you a gauge on what’s in the soil, but knowing whether they are available to the crop when it needs it is another story,” he says. An AgriGold agronomist can help you understand your soil test results and put them to use.

Tissue sampling can show whether nutrients are making their way into the plant, McCord continues, noting it gives a snapshot in time of what’s happening nutritionally within the plant. If farmers wait for visual evidence of a deficiency in the field to take action, they’ve likely already lost yield potential.

Fertility needs vary by Field GX family

McCord recommends farmers pay attention to the Field GX families their hybrids belong to. “Hybrid families play a role in terms of when and what amount of nutrients they need for optimal performance,” he explains.

“Field GX Family F, for example, will benefit from later nitrogen applications that will help it flex in kernel depth,” McCord explains. “Family B or Family A hybrids flex in length or girth, which means they require more nutrients earlier in the season.”

His final piece of advice is to follow the four Rs of nutrient management — right source, right rate, right place and right time. McCord says, “Getting those nutrients closer to the plant when it needs it will help you get the most bang for your buck on nutrients.” 


AgriGold offers high-performing hybrids paired with the latest agronomic knowledge and data to achieve exceptional crop performance, year after year. Based in Westfield, Indiana, AgriGold is for the farmer who wants a true seed partner that is an ally in the field. For more information, visit AgriGold.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X, formerly known as Twitter.


AgReliant Genetics is committed to providing trusted seed solutions that help farmers grow. We do this by focusing solely on seed and delivering one-of-a-kind, high-performing hybrids. Founded in 2000 by global seed companies KWS and Limagrain, AgReliant Genetics benefits from direct access to a global corn germplasm pool and has a top four corn research program. Through our seed brands — AgriGold® and LG Seeds in the U.S. and PRIDE® Seeds in Canada — we proudly offer the latest innovation to our farmer customers, whether they grow corn, soybeans, sorghum or alfalfa. Discover more at AgReliantGenetics.com.