Jay Capasso, UF/IFAS Columbia County. Joel Love, UF/IFAS NFREC Suwannee Valley. Kelly Aue, UF/IFAS NFREC Suwannee Valley.
Sampling corn tissue is an important practice to conduct during the growing season. Tissue testing can help diagnose nutrient deficiencies, which can limit yield and help to evaluate the efficacy of fertilizer management strategies. Tissue sampling during the season determines what nutrients actually make it into the plant from the soil and added fertilizers. Once identified, deficiencies can be corrected via the application of supplemental nutrients depending on when samples are taken and the application equipment the grower has access to (e.g., high clearance applicator, fertigation via center pivot, airplane).
Recommendations on which plant part to sample for the given growth stage may vary slightly between laboratories. Typically for plants under 12 inches tall, the entire aboveground portion of the plant is cut about 1 inch above the soil. For plants taller than 12 inches but prior to tasseling/reproductive growth the most recently matured leaf below the whorl is sampled. Corn in the post tasseling reproductive growth stages is sampled by collecting the leaf opposite and below the ear. It is important to representatively sample from random locations throughout the field avoiding outlying areas where plant health is not representative of the entire field.
For more information see video below: