Importance of Molybdenum in Corn Production

November 15, 2020

Nutrient management in corn is always an ongoing process. Many farmers are wanting to unlock the next level of yield production and are thinking about the role of micronutrients. Soils need to be at their proper pH balance for optimal nutrient uptake and yield potential. Macronutrients like nitrogen are needed in large quantities for plant growth whereas micronutrients are just as important but needed in smaller amounts. A pH above 6.0 helps keep micronutrient deficiencies in check.

One micronutrient, molybdenum (Mo), is rarely deficient in the soils of the Midwest.1 Molybdenum has one of the lowest requirements of the micronutrients for corn production; a 250 bu/acre corn crop only uses 0.013 pound/acre. In comparison, iron, another micronutrient that the corn plant requires, uses nearly 3.17 pounds/acre.2

Many other metals are required for plant growth and Mo is similar to those in use. Mo is utilized by plant enzymes and participates in the reduction and oxidative reactions in an organic complex.3 Mo is essential for the conversion of nitrates to ammonium within the plant.4 For corn production in the Midwest, a key recommendation for Mo management would be to balance the pH above 6.0. Once soils become too acidic, Mo can become unavailable to the corn plant.

Daniel Lundeen



1Sawyer, J. 2004. Nutrient deficiencies and application injuries in field crops. Iowa State University. https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/files/article/nutrientdeficiency.pdf.

2Mengel, D. B. Role of micronutrients in efficient crop production. AY-239. Soils (Fertility). Agronomy Guide. Purdue University. https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-239.html.

3Kaiser, B. N., Gridley, K. L., Ngaire Brady, J., Phillips, T., and Tyerman, S. D. 2005. The role of molybdenum in agricultural plant production. Annals of Botany. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247040/.

4Micronutrients. Principles of nutrient management. https://agronomy.k-state.edu.

Web sites verified 9/21/2020

Performance may vary, from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields.
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