Achieve Optimum Planting Depth this Spring

Achieve Optimum Planting Depth this Spring

When it comes to planting corn, how deep is deep enough and how shallow is too shallow? In a planting depth demonstration, DuPont Pioneer agronomy researchers evaluated how corn development is affected when planted at different depths. The results confirmed optimal planting depth in the Midwest is typically 1½-2 in.

There are a number of reasons why growers may find varying planting depths within a single corn field. These include planting at too high of speed, planting into heavy residue and planting in less-than-optimum soil conditions.

Corn planted too shallow may result in:

  • Decreased ability to uptake water and nutrients through the roots
  • Potential to develop “rootless corn syndrome” – causing plants to fall over due to the lack of nodal root development in dry soil
  • Increased potential for herbicide injury due to exposure of corn seedlings to herbicide residues

To achieve optimum planting depth this spring, consider the following planting depth recommendations:

  • Set the planting depth in the field, with the planter being pulled at full operating speed
  • Check for good seed-soil contact
  • Slower planting speeds achieve more uniform planting depths
  • Utilize in-row residue management equipment when needed
  • Utilize in-furrow seed depth control devices

Additional management tips, including proper plant spacing to maximize yield, are available at

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