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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Nitrogen Management

Chlorophyll Meter Readings Can Predict Nitrogen Need and Yield Response of Corn in the North-Central USA


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 3, p. 655-665
    Received: Mar 8, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): scharfp@missouri.edu
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  1. Peter C. Scharf *a,
  2. Sylvie M. Brouderb and
  3. Robert G. Hoeftc
  1. a Plant Sciences Div., Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
    b Agronomy Dep., Lilly Hall, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907
    c Crop Science Dep., AW-101 Turner Hall, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801


Nitrogen fertilizer is a fundamental input for production of corn (Zea mays L.) that can move to ground and surface waters when over-applied. Previous research has shown that chlorophyll meter (CM) readings can indicate N stress in corn, but has not addressed whether the amount of N needed can be predicted by CM readings. Our objective was to evaluate whether CM readings can predict corn N need and yield response to N. Sixty-six N rate experiments were conducted in seven north-central states over a 4-yr period. Linear regression was used to relate absolute and relative CM readings over a range of growth stages to economically optimal N rate (EONR) and yield response to N applied at growth stage V7 or earlier. Chlorophyll meter readings at all growth stages from V5 to R5 were significantly related (P < 0.0001 in 22 of 24 models, P < 0.01 in 2 models) to EONR and yield response to N. Relationships were stronger for relative than for than absolute CM readings, and also were stronger when the corn had received no N fertilizer at planting. Coefficients of determination ranged from 0.53 to 0.76 for relative CM reading as a predictor of EONR or yield response to N, and were lower for the V5 to V9 stage than for later stages. Earlier research has indicated that measurements with this level of predictive accuracy can produce N rate recommendations that are more profitable than current N management practices. Our findings suggest that CM readings (and potentially other measures of corn color) are quantitatively related to early-season EONR and yield response to N over a wide range of environments with enough accuracy to be helpful in making management decisions.

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