California Crop Fertilization Guidelines

UC Davis
A collaboration between CDFA, FREP and UC Davis

Corn Grain Nitrogen Uptake and Partitioning

The Fertilization guidelines can also be found on the UC Davis Nutrient Management website .

Seasonal N Uptake

Season N Uptake Curve Graph

Nitrogen uptake curve of corn grown in New Jersey. Corn was fertilized with 230 lbs N/acre; grain yield averaged 10,700 lbs/acre (5.36 tons/acre). Uptake was determined by harvesting the aboveground biomass 6 to 8 times during corn development [3]. Corn plants took up little N until they reached the 6-leaf stage (V6). Most N was taken up between the 6-leaf stage and silking (R1). The proportion of N taken up between silking and maturity (R6) ranged from less than 10% to about 40%. [3].

Nitrogen Partitioning

Nitrogen partitioning pie chart

In a study carried out at Davis, CA, about 52% of the total aboveground N was in the grains at maturity. The grain yield reached 10,650 lbs/acre (5.3 tons/acre). Slightly less than half of the N was in the stover [4].

Nitrogen Removed at Harvest

Nitrogen removed with harvested corn grains. More information can be found here [2].

Location Years Removal (lbs N/ton @ 15.5% moisture) Source
    Mean Range  
Global 1991-2011 24.0 6.0 - 53.6 [1]
Weighted Average 24.0 6.0 - 53.6  



  1. Ciampitti, I.A., Vyn, T.J., 2012. Physiological perspectives of changes over time in maize yield dependency on nitrogen uptake and associated nitrogen efficiencies: A review. Field Crops Research 133, 48-67.
  2. Geisseler, D., 2016. Nitrogen concentrations in harvested plant parts -A literature overview. Report to the Kings River Watershed Coalition.
  3. Karlen, D.L., Sadler, E.J., Camp, C.R., 1987. Dry matter, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium accumulation rates by corn on Norfolk Loamy Sand. Agronomy Journal 79, 649-656.
  4. Kramer, A.W., Doane, T.A., Horwath, W.R., van Kessel, C., 2002. Combining fertilizer and organic inputs to synchronize N supply in alternative cropping systems in California. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 91, 233-243.