• Soil texture
    crop soil texture
    Medium heavy soils, no waterlogging
  • Min. temperature
    crop temperature icon
    Growth from 8°C
  • pH
    Grain Maize crop pH value
    Tolerant of slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils; pH optimal: 7.0
  • Water demand
    Grain Maize crop rainfall value
    Min. 250l/m2
  • Vernalisation
    Grain Maize crop vernalisation
  • Plant density
    crop density
    depending on date and variety 7 to 10 grains/m²
  • Seeding Depth
    crop seeding depth
    3-6 cm
Grain Maize
Grain maize prefers deep and well supplied soils. Well aired soils are beneficial for quick soil warming and good root growth. Maize does not have a taproot, and benefits from soil-loosening catch crops prior to its cultivation. As a C4 plant, maize has a relatively low water demand in relation to yield, but needs plenty of nutrients and high temperatures to produce good yields. An enormous diversity of varieties provides the basis for growing maize in different locations and growing conditions. The ripening tendencies of different varieties is specified in an index of maturity and ranges between FAO 160 and FAO 500. The lower the number, the less heat units are required before the maize can be harvested.
Key facts
  • observe phosphorus-potassium sensitivity
  • entire N-application possible prior to cultivation
  • later N application at the 4-leaf stage, late N-application delays ripening
  • subsoil fertilization on poorly supplied soils
General Information
General Information
Nutrient demand
Nutrient demand
Grain maize is used as feed or starch corn. In the starch processing industry, special waxy maize is also in demand. In addition, grain maize is used as an industrial raw material for citric acid production. Maize crop management is relatively simple. After germinating approximately seven to ten seeds per m², a maize herbicide is used, either during pre-emergence or post-emergence stage until the six-leaf stage. If needed, a fungicide or insecticide is used later in the growth process. Fungal diseases are easily transmitted from previous crops to maize. These infections are detected after harvest in the mycotoxin values of the crop. Ploughing to incorporate cereal straw, and choosing the correct variety, is a way of counteracting this. Infested maize parts are not permitted in human foodstuffs or animal feed.
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The right maize fertilizer is crucial for the yield
Grain maize, like all root crops, has a high nitrogen demand, as well as a high demand for phosphate and potash. Phosphate is often poorly available for young maize plants, especially under wet and cold conditions, but also under very dry conditions, or when the soil is compacted. In the juvenile phase, the maize root system is still poorly developed. Phosphate deficiency causes anthocyanin enrichment in the leaves and stems, which often shows as red or violet discoloration. Potassium in maize fertilization controls water uptake and regulates the stomata. In addition, potassium influences assimilation in the grain. The majority of the nutrient remains in the straw and subsequently for the next crop in the field. Maize is not very sensitive to chloride, and potash fertilization is followed by an NP fertilizer, or applied in the form of a NPK fertilizer prior to sowing.
Demand and extraction quantities of grain maize



(Unit/t of production)


(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency




Very Sensitive




Very Sensitive




Very Sensitive










Zinc (Zn) from the 6-leaf stage, boron (B) promotes fecundation

The table shows the uptake and removal of nutrients per tonne of grain maize yield. Sulphur and magnesium must be present in appropriate amounts, in addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
For example, a grain maize yield of 12t/ha takes up 264kg N/ha. Assuming a replenishment of 60kg N/ha from the soil and 40kg N/ha from the leguminous intermediate crop, 160kg N/ha would need to be added in fertilizer. 171kg N/ha would be removed from the field by the harvest.
Grain maize requires nutrients in concentrated form, especially in the first stage of mass development, up to the flowering stage. Afterwards, most of the nutrients are only rearranged within the plant or used for water absorption (potassium).

The majority of fertilization is prior to sowing.
The total amount of nutrients required for grain maize can be applied prior to cultivation. The largest need for nutrients is during the first phase of growth, and multiple applications have shown no additional yield. Phosphorus and potash fertilizers are also best applied prior to, or directly at sowing.
With high yield expectations and therefore a correspondingly high N-requirement in maize and also on light soils where there is a risk of N-leaching, split applications are appropriate. One third of the planned amount of nitrogen is applied at the two to four leaf stage. Applying later than this increases the risk of leaf burning and delays ripening. This results in higher grain moisture contents.

Placed (banded) fertilization in the form of an NP fertilizer brings yield benefits, especially on heavy soils, in cold locations and low phosphate soils, as the still small roots can feed directly from the fertilizer belt. Temporary phosphate deficiency in juvenile development can be resolved very well via P-concentrated liquid fertilizer or water-soluble nutrient salts. 

Grain corn can be limed prior to maize sowing or in autumn. The maximum quantity of CaO should be 1500kg/ha– preferably in the form of calcium carbonate, so as not to immobilise boron. This maximum quantity should not be exceeded.

Yield parameters of grain maize:

  • number of plants/m²
  • number of grains on the cob
  • thousand grain weight

The yield formation results from an optimal distribution of approximately eight to nine plants per m² and a correspondingly strong healthy cob. 
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First application

First application image

Second application

Second application image

First application

Single application of the total nutrient requirement prior to cultivation:
Grain maize needs its nutrients concentrated at the beginning of growth. Therefore, it is ideal to incorporate fertilizer into the soil prior to sowing. The entire amount of required nutrients can be applied in one dose using a suitable NPK formula. N fertilization depends on the subsequent delivery from the soil and yield expectation, which corresponds to approximately 160-180kg N/ha.
It is important to use water-soluble main nutrients from the six leaf stage onwards; a high daily mass formation begins, which is associated with high nutrient absorption rates of several kg/ha and day.

Second application

Final fertilization at the two to four leaf stage at the latest
At high yield expectations, and therefore higher N-level requirements, as well as in light soils to protect against leaching losses, N-fertilization is split into two applications. In this case, one third of the total amount of nitrogen should be added as a fast acting nitric nitrogen application in the two to four leaf stage. Later fertilization brings no yield advantage, but carries the risk of leaf burning and delaying ripening.