• Soil texture
    Medium heavy soils, no waterlogging
  • Min. temperature
    Growth from 8°C
  • pH
    Tolerant of slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soils; pH optimal: 7.0
  • Water demand
    Min. 250l/m2
  • Vernalisation
  • Plant density
    depending on date and variety 7 to 10 grains/m²
  • Seeding Depth
    3-6 cm
Grain Maize
Grain maize prefers deep and well supplied soils. Well aired soils are beneficial for quick soil warming and good root growth. Maize does not have a taproot, and benefits from soil-loosening catch crops prior to its cultivation. As a C4 plant, maize has a relatively low water demand in relation to yield, but needs plenty of nutrients and high temperatures to produce good yields. An enormous diversity of varieties provides the basis for growing maize in different locations and growing conditions. The ripening tendencies of different varieties is specified in an index of maturity and ranges between FAO 160 and FAO 500. The lower the number, the less heat units are required before the maize can be harvested.
Key facts
  • observe phosphorus-potassium sensitivity
  • entire N-application possible prior to cultivation
  • later N application at the 4-leaf stage, late N-application delays ripening
  • subsoil fertilization on poorly supplied soils
General Information
General Information
Nutrient Demand
Nutrient Demand
Grain maize is used as feed or starch corn. In the starch processing industry, special waxy maize is also in demand. In addition, grain maize is used as an industrial raw material for citric acid production. Maize crop management is relatively simple. After germinating approximately seven to ten seeds per m², a maize herbicide is used, either during pre-emergence or post-emergence stage until the six-leaf stage. If needed, a fungicide or insecticide is used later in the growth process. Fungal diseases are easily transmitted from previous crops to maize. These infections are detected after harvest in the mycotoxin values of the crop. Ploughing to incorporate cereal straw, and choosing the correct variety, is a way of counteracting this. Infested maize parts are not permitted in human foodstuffs or animal feed.
The right maize fertilizer is crucial for the yield
Grain maize, like all root crops, has a high nitrogen demand, as well as a high demand for phosphate and potash. Phosphate is often poorly available for young maize plants, especially under wet and cold conditions, but also under very dry conditions, or when the soil is compacted. In the juvenile phase, the maize root system is still poorly developed. Phosphate deficiency causes anthocyanin enrichment in the leaves and stems, which often shows as red or violet discoloration. Potassium in maize fertilization controls water uptake and regulates the stomata. In addition, potassium influences assimilation in the grain. The majority of the nutrient remains in the straw and subsequently for the next crop in the field. Maize is not very sensitive to chloride, and potash fertilization is followed by an NP fertilizer, or applied in the form of a NPK fertilizer prior to sowing.
Demand and extraction quantities of grain maize



(Unit/t of production)


(Unit/t of production)

Sensitivity to deficiency




Very Sensitive




Very Sensitive




Very Sensitive










Zinc (Zn) from the 6-leaf stage, boron (B) promotes fecundation

The table shows the uptake and removal of nutrients per tonne of grain maize yield. Sulphur and magnesium must be present in appropriate amounts, in addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
For example, a grain maize yield of 12t/ha takes up 264kg N/ha. Assuming a replenishment of 60kg N/ha from the soil and 40kg N/ha from the leguminous intermediate crop, 160kg N/ha would need to be added in fertilizer. 171kg N/ha would be removed from the field by the harvest.
Grain maize requires nutrients in concentrated form, especially in the first phase of mass development, up until flowering. Afterwards, most of the nutrients are only rearranged within the plant or used for water absorption (potassium).

The nutrients required for grain maize can be applied prior to cultivation and then between the four to ten leaves growth stage. Phosphorus and potash fertilizers are also best applied prior to, or directly at sowing. Subsoil fertilization in the form of an NP fertilizer brings yield benefits, especially in heavy soils, in cold locations and in soils with low phosphorus content, as the still small roots can feed directly from the fertilizer belt. Temporary phosphate deficiency in juvenile development can be adressed very efficiently using P-concentrated liquid fertilizer or water-soluble nutrient salts. 
Liming can be done prior to sowing or in autumn. The maximum quantity of CaO should be 1,500kg/ha– preferably in the form of calcium carbonate, so as not to immobilise boron. This maximum quantity should not be exceeded.

Yield parameters of grain maize:

  • number of plants/m²
  • number of grains on the cob
  • thousand grain weight.

First application

Second application

First application

First application prior to cultivation or at sowing:
Grain maize needs nutrients at the beginning of growth. Therefore, pre-sowing fertilization incorporated into the soil is ideal. A third to half of the required nitrogen can be applied using a suitable NPK compound fertilizer. 
N fertilization dependins on the subsequent delivery from the soil, is based on extraction, which corresponds to approximately 160-180kg N/ha.
It is important to use water-soluble main nutrients. From the six leaf stage onwards, a high daily mass formation begins, which is associated with high nutrient absorption rates of several kg/ha and day.

Second application

Nitrogen fertilization between four and ten leaves growth stage:
At high yield expectations, and therefore higher N-level requirements, as well as on light soils, to protect against leaching losses, N-fertilization is split into two applications. One half to two thirds of the total amount of nitrogen should be added as a fast acting nitric nitrogen application between four to ten leaves growth stage, ideally between the six to eight leaf stages. Later fertilization brings no yield advantage, but carries the risk of leaf burning and delayed ripening.