Blogging by the Bushel
With numerous challenges over the past several years for producers, we at Mercer Landmark understand the need for a comprehensive risk management solution. We seek to provide our customers with unparalleled service to ensure maximum results.

By~ Jeff Prickett

As I visit with farmers about their upcoming starter fertilizer needs for corn, I have had a few questions arise about starter fertilizer. Questions such as: What is the best fertilizer for 2”x2” placement? How much 28%N can I run in a 2”x2” placement situation? If I have high P levels, do I really need 10-34-0 in the mix? How much and what kind of starter fertilizer can I run in-furrow and not hurt my seed?

According to Penn State University Extension, Starter Fertilizer is defined as a small quantity of fertilizer nutrients applied in close proximity to the seed at planting. Starter fertilizers enhance the development of emerging seedlings by supplying essential nutrients in accessible locations near the roots.

Starter fertilizers are most beneficial when crops are planted into cold, wet soils in the early spring, regardless of soil fertility. Using a starter is especially important in conservation tillage systems.

Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are the key nutrient components in a starter fertilizer program.

On high phosphorus soils a nitrogen only starter will usually provide a similar starter response without adding additional P to an already high P soil.

Many of my customers have high P1 levels (over 100lb/acre) and don’t necessarily want to add additional P. A good starter program (2”x2” placement) I would recommend would be 10-15gpa of 28% N plus 2 to 3gpa of Thio-sul (12-0-0-26S). If you are set up for dry fertilizer starter a good starter program would be to run 150 to 200lb/acre of AMS (21-0-0-24S). For liquid starter, I would recommend adding 1qt/acre of a chelated zinc product such as Winfield’s Citri-Che 10% Zinc or Ultra-Che EDTA 9% Zinc. For dry starter, I would recommend adding 6 to 8oz/acre of Wolftax Zinc DDP. The above rates of starter fertilizer in a 2”x2” placement are seed safe and well below the established safety threshold of 70lbs of total salts per acre. Example: 15 gallons per acre of 28%N = 45lbs of N/acre.

If you have low P soils, 10-34-0 makes an excellent liquid starter. I have many of my customers running 8-15gpa of 10-34-0 plus 2 to 3gpa of Thio-sul plus zinc. Or some use a combination of 28%N and 10-34-0 plus Thio-Sul and Zinc. In a dry starter situation 100lbs/acre of MAP (11-52-0) plus 100lbs/acre of AMS (21-0-0-24S) makes an excellent dry starter program. Wolftrax Zinc can also be added to this blend to address Zinc needs.

For an in-furrow starter (placed with seed) I would recommend staying with 5gpa or less of 10-34-0 plus chelated zinc.  Do not use 28%N or Sulfur products as seed damage may occur. Our seed partners at DeKalb/Asgrow have a great article on row starter seed safety. It can be found at the following link:

If you have any questions or concerns about your starter fertilizer program, please feel free to reach out to any of us at Mercer Landmark Agronomy. We have a wide selection of fertilizer products to meet your individual row starter needs.

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