Especially when the forecast turns cold and wet, a starter fertilizer may help get the seedlings off to a good start. Research suggests that starter nitrogen (N) is the primary nutrient of interest where soil phosphorus and potassium levels are adequate for crop growth.

Purdue University recommends aiming for no less than 20 lbs of actual N per acre to maximize the probability and magnitude of a yield response to starter fertilizer. This rate would be equal to 6.5 gallons of 28 percent UAN per acre or 200 lbs of 10-34-0 per acre applied in a traditional 2 x 2 placement with the planter. Such rates obviously restrict the use of starter placement with the seed because of the risk of fertilizer salt injury to the seed or seedling.