Irrigation and Water Management for Corn

Pivot Irrigated 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.
  • Statewide 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
Information on deficit irrigation and how to use 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 inches or less in eastern Nebraska to 14 inches 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, please see these resources on the UNL Extension Water website at: