Pivot Irrigated Corn

Irrigation and Water Management for Corn

With rising fuel prices and efforts to more efficiently utilize water for crop production, UNL Extension is working hard to help producers more effectively and efficiently use water resources while maintaining high crop yields.  This page contains UNL Extension resources related to corn water and irrigation management.

  • Since 2003, Nebraska producers have grown approximately 8.53 million acres of corn per year.
  • Of this total, approximately 60.6%, or 5.17 million acres, were irrigated.
  • State-wide irrigated corn yields have averaged 184 bushels/acre, but yields of 220+ bushels/acre are not uncommon.
  • Non-irrigated corn yields averaged 113 bushels/acre during this same period.

Deficit Irrigation Information
The above link provides information on deficit irrigation and using the Water Optimizer tool developed by UNL.

Irrigation Management for Corn This publication discusses corn irrigation management strategies options and objectives.

Plant Growth and Yield as Affected by Wet Soil Conditions Due to Flooding or Over-Irrigation  This NebGuide discusses how wet soil conditions caused by flooding or over-irrigation can damage crops, reduce yields, and contribute to groundwater contamination. Adopting proper irrigation management strategies can limit negative impacts.

Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season  This NebGuide presents criteria and "rules of thumb" for predicting the last irrigation of the season for corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and dry beans.



Average net irrigation needs across the sate of Nebraska vary from 6" or less in eastern Nebraska to 14" in western Nebraska.

Estimated corn water needs for each stage of growth can be seen in table I of the NebGuide listed above.  Daily water use estimates can vary greatly across the state, and from year to year making average water use rates just that estimates.

Agricultural water users can optimize water use efficiency and protect the quality of water resources by applying basic information about irrigation systems, crop water use and management practices. For optimum water use efficiency and profitability, producers need to monitor rainfall, soil moisture and crop water uses and utilize cropping systems like no-till or reduced tillage to capture and retain as much precipitation as possible.

Irrigation Resources

For more information regarding irrigation resources, please go to the following links provided below from the UNL Water Web site at: http://water.unl.edu.

Agricultural Irrigation Resources

Deficit Irrigation Resources

Resources on Irrigation Operations & Management

Resources for Center Pivot Irrigation Systems

Resources on Furrow Irrigation

Resources for Subsurface Drip Irrigation Systems

Resources on Water Quality

Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Demonstration Network

Resource on Wet Soil Conditions

Resources on Comprehensive Water Issues

Irrigation Management

Producers working with UNL Extension and local Natural Resources Districts in irrigation management are saving an average of 1.6" of water/year! Find out more about the Nebraska Ag Water Management Demonstration Network and how you, too, can save water and energy in your operation!

UNL Irrigation Management for Crops

UNL Weather and Evapotranspiration (ET) info.