KTIC Radio Extension Corner: Corn Planting Depth

This is Aaron Nygren, your local agronomist with Nebraska Extension in Colfax, Cuming, and Stanton counties. Our local team of agronomists will be bringing you timely information every Thursday to help your farming operatoin so I’m pleased to join the group on air every third Thursday of the month.

This week let’s talk about seeding depth for corn. Whether you’ve already put some seed in the ground or are waiting for fields to dry out and warm up, seeding depth is critical to not only get corn off to a good start but has long lasting effects the rest of the season.

When we talk about planting depth for corn, you will commonly hear both Extension and industry say to plant at least 1.5 to 2 inches deep. My advice would be to shoot for an average depth of 2 inches to the top of the seed. A 2 inch depth is what most planter openers and closing wheels were designed for to ensure a proper furrow for the seed and to close the furrow properly over the seed.

With the recent wet weather you may be tempted to shallow up your planting depth to get into drier, warmer soil, but shallower depths should be avoided because they affect root growth, leading to rootless corn syndrome and possible yield loss.

As we get back into field, be sure to take the time to dig 2-3 times within a field to ensure that you are hitting your target seed depth. In addition, be sure to check different row units as differences in weight and compaction can lead to variation in seeding depth from end of planter to the other.

Finally, ensuring an even seed depth between seeds is critical to avoid differences in emergence and competition through the year. If you find lots of variation in depth between seeds, you may need to slow down your planting speed to reduce row unit bounce, look at adding seed firming devices, or check your down pressure settings.

So to recap, this corn planting season be sure to shoot for a 2 inch seed depth and take time to confirm that you are hitting that target.

To listen to this radio message again and to get more information, visit our local website at croptechcafe.org or give me a call at 352-3821. This is Aaron Nygren, your local agronomist for Nebraska Extension on KTIC radio.

KTIC Radio Extension Corner: Corn Planting Depth
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