Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Stewart, Z.P.; Paparozzi, E.T.; Wortmann, C.S.; Jha, P.K.; Shapiro, C.A. Effect of Foliar Micronutrients (B, Mn, Fe, Zn) on Maize Grain Yield, Micronutrient Recovery, Uptake, and Partitioning. Plants 2021, 10, 528. 10.3390/plants10030528


2021 by the authors.


Timing of micronutrient demand and acquisition by maize (Zea Mays L.) is nutrient spe‐ cific and associated with key vegetative and reproductive growth stages. The objective of this study was to determine the fate of foliar‐applied B, Fe, Mn, Zn, and Fe/Zn together, evaluate the effect of foliar micronutrients applied at multiple rates and growth stages on maize grain yield, and deter‐ mine their apparent nutrient recovery efficiency (ANR). Five Randomized Complete Block Design (RCBD) experiments were conducted in 2014 and 2015 at five locations across Nebraska. Total dry matter was collected at 5–6 stages, and separated into leaves, stalk, and reproductive tissue as ap‐ propriate to determine micronutrient uptake, partitioning, and translocation. Foliar B, Mn, Zn, and Fe/Zn had no effect on grain yield for most application time by rate levels, though, at the foliar Mn site, there was a 19% yield increase due to a V18 application of 0.73 kg Mn ha−1 which corresponded with reduced Mn uptake in maize grown in control plots. At the foliar Zn site, there was 4.5% de‐ crease in yield due to a split foliar application of 0.84 kg Zn ha−1 total, applied at V11 and V15 stage, which increased leaf Zn concentrations greater than the established toxic level. Only the Fe site had consistent grain yield response and was the only experiment that had visual signs of micronutrient deficiency. Regardless of application time from V6 to R2, there was a 13.5–14.6% increase in grain yield due to 0.22 kg Fe ha−1 foliar application. Most micronutrients had limited or no translocation, however, early season applications of B, prior to V10, had significant mobilization to reproductive tissues at or after VT. Foliar Mn, Zn, and B application had ANR LSmeans of 9.5, 16.9, and 2.5%, respectively, whereas the Fe/Zn mix had negative ANR LSmeans of ‐9.1% Fe and −1.3% Zn which indicate suppression. These data highlight the importance of confirming a micronutrient deficiency prior to foliar application, guide specific growth stages to target with specific micronutrients, track the fate of foliar‐applied micronutrients, and describe the variable effect of foliar‐applied micronu‐ trients on grain yield.