Renewable Farming

Foliars can accelerate growth of corn planted a little later than you wanted

This morning, AgriEnergy Resources in Princeton, IL e-mailed its clients and friends helpful guidance on beneficial foliar feeding for corn and beans in the early stages — two to five leaves.

May 24, 2018 — Here’s what the AgriEnergy agronomists said. After those quotes we’ll add some recommendations of our own.

“Another planting season is wrapping up. As we look ahead to the growing season, consider applying an early foliar during the V-2 to V-5 time frame. We’ve seen some great success with early season foliars. If you’re wondering what you could be doing here’s what we’d recommend:

“1. For conventional growers...Accelerator has shown great results when applied at 3-4 gallons/acre. It’s a complete package including nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium along with some zinc, manganese, boron, copper, iron, magnesium, and carbons. 

“2. For organic growersPillar is a great option when applied at 3-4 gallons/acre. It’s a complete blend including nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, manganese, boron, copper, and various carbon sources.

“3. For all growers…1-2 gallons/acre of SP-1™ can be added to any foliar application to boost effectiveness; but if you’re needing a specific micronutrient, our Biomin line of trace minerals can be added into the tank as well. If you’re looking for an adjuvant to help the plant better absorb essential nutrients, we’d recommend Wake-Up Summer for conventional growers and OroBoost for organic crops.”

The chart at right reflects a random-rep field trial on corn which we conducted with Accelerator on the Renewable Farming research farm in 2013. Accelerator was a new formulation then. We found that as expected, tank-mixing it with WakeUP Summer bumped up yield response. 

We’ve done hundreds of such replicated yield trials. Our general conclusion: If a foliar-applied trace element blend or biostimulant consistently generates a 5-bu. yield benefit, tank-mixing it with WakeUP Summer lifts the yield response another 4 bushels. Overall, WakeUP Summer typically adds 80% more on top of the original benefit. 


In the Accelerator trial, we tissue-tested three samples each of corn that had:

No foliar treatment

Foliar treatment with Accelerator alone

Foliar treatment with Accelerator plus WakeUP Summer.

As the yellow and green chart shows, addition of WakeUP Summer to the Accelerator foliar nutrients bumped absorption and metabolism of five important trace elements, as of nine days after application. The chart compares control analysis with that of Accelerator plus WakeUP Summer. Our spreadsheets also show that when we measured trace content with Accelerator alone, versus Accelerator plus WakeUP, the average gain in metabolized traces with WakeUP present was 10%.

Our trial was on non-GMO corn, so there was no glyphosate application to chelate (lock up) trace elements. Under glyphosate conditions, foliars containing the trace metals typically show more response than in fields or foliar spray conditions without a chemical chelator. That’s how glyphosate kills weeds: It ties up essential trace elements the weed needs to live.

We recall hearing soybean yield champ Kip Cullers at a 2015 Conklin Company seminar in Minnesota; he was recommending a foliar application of zinc on soybeans and corn. “It’s a no-brainer. Just do it,” he told the crowd of about 400 farmers. I chatted with Kip privately after his presentation, asking him: “I’m non-GMO. Never had glyphosate on the place. Would I still need to foliar-apply zinc?” Kip shrugged. “Then you probably don’t need zinc,” he said. “Tissue test first.”

The point of mentioning that visit with Kip: Yield data from test results can depend significantly on a field’s history of nutrients, fungicides and herbicides. University researchers note that yield response to fungicides became more significant after the advent of Roundup, which impacts the balance of soil microbes toward fungal populations.

A small example of the “field history affect:” After hearing Kip Cullers in spring 2015, we invested an entire field into foliar trials on corn with Kip Cullers Compass, a product from Conklin. We had no yield response from Compass over the control strips. There was a 2-bu. benefit in yields by adding WakeUP Summer, but not the kind of very positive results that most farmers were seeing. And most corn and soybean farmers were in glyphosate regimens. Here’s the link to our report from that work in 2015.