Research

Starter Fertilizer Response by Planting Date Corn Study

Key Points

  • Objective: The purpose of this study is to monitor the performance of starter fertilizer at various planting dates. 
  • Fertilizer Cost: The cost of fertilizer can impact overall ROI. In 2022, we showed several planting dates that returned minimal revenue gains and even a negative ROI due to the increased cost of starter fertilizer from the previous year. Starter fertilizers increased in price in 2022 by nearly 40% over the 2021 price! 
  • Colder Planting Dates: Our highest yield gain using starter fertilizer was 14.1 Bu/A. Generally, we saw our starter fertilizer program yield the best results when used during colder planting dates.

Does starter fertilizer respond differently at earlier planted dates or later planting dates?

When it comes to fertilizer, it’s easy to overspend your dollars on nutrients and not have what you need to cover both a full fall program dry fertilizer and a starter fertilizer at the time of planting.

“When we have a cold, wet spring, we want that luxury of a starter fertilizer to keep that root growing.”

Jason Webster

Commercial Agronomist | Precision Planting

The goal of any fertilizer program is to create a healthier root system to get a healthier plant which results in a higher yield. However, if the cost of your fertilizer program outpaces your projected revenue, you could end up with a negative return on investment. 

With so many factors and fertilizer options, it’s important to analyze the potential ROI before you invest your dollars.

In this multi-year study at the PTI Farm, we are exploring how planting dates affect the ROI of utilizing a starter fertilizer. We found that every planting date achieved yield gains from our starter fertilizer program, but that didn’t always lead to economic increases. The best yield responses came during the early planting dates in April of 2021 and our early May planting dates of 2022.

Our highest yield gain using starter fertilizer was 14.1 Bu/A. Generally, we saw our starter fertilizer program yield the best results when used during colder planting dates.

The primary takeaway from this study so far is to consider how a starter fertilizer program can benefit your early planting dates. We wouldn’t recommend abandoning your fall fertilizer applications, but instead to consider splitting your dollars on nutrients between a fall fertilizer and starter fertilizer program together.


Starter Fertilizer Response by Planting Date Study Results


In-Depth Study Videos

InsidePTI S1•E42


Liquid Starter Fertilizer Rates


Study Details 

Study data collected 2018-2022 at the PTI Farm in Pontiac, IL.

Planting DateVaried By YearRotationCAB, CAC
Row Width20"-30"Population24K-36K
Corn Prices

2022: $6.00

2021: $5.00

2020: $3.75

2019: $3.67

2018: $3.50

Hybrid

2022: GH11V78

2021: GH15J91

2020: GH10D21

2019: DKC 65-94

2018: Pioneer 1197AMXT

Related Tags

CornPlantersFertilizer ApplicationInsidePTIPlanting & SeedingFertilizer PlacementPlanter

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