CDFA Inspection Services Division

Grain Corn Nitrogen Uptake and Partitioning







Corn for Grain

Corn for Silage










Seasonal N Uptake

Nitrogen uptake curve of corn grown in New Jersey. Corn was fertilized with 230 lbs N/acre; grain yield averaged 10,700 lbs/acre (5.36 tons/acre). Uptake was determined by harvesting the aboveground biomass 6 to 8 times during corn development (Karlen et al., 1987).
Corn plants took up little N until they reached the 6-leaf stage (V6). Most N was taken up between the 6-leaf stage and silking (R1). The proportion of N taken up between silking and maturity (R6) ranged from less than 10% to about 40%. (Karlen et al., 1987).

Nitrogen Partitioning

In a study carried out at Davis, CA, about 52% of the total aboveground N was in the grains at maturity. The grain yield reached 10,650 lbs/acre (5.3 tons/acre). Slightly less than half of the N was in the stover (Kramer et al., 2002).

Nitrogen Removed at Harvest

Yield and N removed with grains. Values from a study carried out at Davis, CA. Corn was fertilized with 200 lbs N/acre (Kramer et al., 2003). In a review of several studies from the Eastern U.S., Heckman and coworkers (2003) reported an average N content of 24 lbs/ton of grain with values ranging from 19 to 31 lbs N/ton of grain. An average grain N content of 24 lbs/ton was also reported in a review by Ciampitti and Vyn (2012).


Corn Fertilization Guidelines


Ciampitti, I.A., Vyn, T.J., 2012. Physiological perspectives of changes over time in maize yield dependency on nitrogen uptake and associated nitrogen efficiencies: A review. Field Crops Research 133, 48–67.

Heckman, J.R., Sims, J.T., Beegle, D.B., Coale, F.J., Herbert, S.J., Bruulsema, T.W., Bamka, W.J., 2003. Nutrient removal by corn grain harvest. Agronomy Journal 95, 587–591.

Karlen, D.L., Sadler, E.J., Camp, C.R., 1987. Dry matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium accumulation rates by corn on Norfolk Loamy Sand. Agronomy Journal 79, 649-656.

Kramer, A.W., Doane, T.A., Horwath, W.R., van Kessel, C., 2002. Combining fertilizer and organic inputs to synchronize N supply in alternative cropping systems in California. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 91, 233-243.