Corn grain (Zea mays L.) samples were collected from nine Univ. of Illinois Agronomy Research Fields stiuated throughout Illinois and from six soil associations in Fulton County, Ill. The 243 samples were obtained from sites receiving only inorganic fertilizers. The objective was to determine levels of selected elements in corn grain as it is commonly grown in Illinois. Chemical analysis of the corn grain for Ca, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn showed that the concentrations of K and Mg were the highest, while levels of Cd, Cr, and Pb were < 0.2 µg/g. Variability of Na, Cd, and Cr in the grain samples was high, while that of Mg, Zn, and Mn was low. Element concentrations in grain were within the ranges given in the literature.
Concentrations of Ca, Mg, Mn, K, Na, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn from the nine research fields varied significantly with location. Soil type at the six Fulton County soil associations significantly affected the concentrations of Mg, Mn, K, Cd, and Cr in the grain.
There was a highly significant positive correlation for applied fertilizer N and the grain Mn content for samples from the research fields. Highly significant negative correlations were observed for applied fertilizer N and the K, Na, Cd, and Pb levels in corn grain.
An evaluation of possible health effects for selected corn grain metals indicated that the background levels of Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, and Zn observed would not present any human or animal health problems.