Asynchrony between nitrogen (N) released by organic materials and N demand by the crop leads to low N use efficiency. Optimizing the time of application could increase the N recovery. A field experiment was designed to determine the effects of time of application of Gliricidia sepium prunings and of the addition of small doses of inorganic N fertilizer on N recovery and yield of maize. Six split applications of gliricidia prunings (in October, December and February) were compared. The prunings were incorporated into the soil while fresh. The application in October was done four weeks before planting the maize. Higher N uptake and maize yields were obtained when gliricidia prunings were applied in October than when applied in December and February. The corresponding substitution values were 0.66, 0.32 and 0.20. Split applications of prunings prolonged mineral N availability in the soil until March but did not increase N uptake and maize grain yield compared to a sole application in October. Combinations of gliricidia prunings and inorganic fertilizer increased N uptake and maize yield over prunings alone but the effect was only additive. We concluded that application of gliricidia prunings in October was more efficient than application in December and February.