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Don't Be Afraid of Deep Planting for CornDon't Be Afraid of Deep Planting for Corn

If you're still planting corn, deep planting is an option.

Tom Bechman 1

June 4, 2013

2 Min Read

Farmers who planted corn after mid-May said they usually set it two inches deep. Some wondered if that was too deep, but reports say that it came up quickly and uniformly.

That's not a surprise to Jeff Phillips, the Tippecanoe County Extension ag educator who has helped coordinate plot trials for Indiana Prairie Farmer and Precision Planting over the past few years. For two years in a row, corn planted at the 4 inch deep – that's four full inches into the soil below the surface – emerged well and in about the same time as corn planted at 2- and 3-inch depths. The only caveat is that soils were warm. Their trial theory has still not been tested on very cool soils.


So if you're planting now, don't hesitate to go as deep as you want. The corn can push up through the soil and emerge. Going deeper guarantees that you access moisture, and the temperature at that level now is far over the 55 degrees F needed for corn to germinate.

What you don't want to do now is plant too shallow, and risk issues with the soil drying out. Phillips notes that in one year, the planting at one-inch depth had erratic emergence all year and wound up yielding about 20 bushels less than the other three planting depths. For that year in that location, that was a significant reduction in yield for planting too shallow. The differences in the other three depths were not significant.

In that year, the soil was dry at planting, and then it didn't rain for about a week. Phillips theorized that the corn planted one inch deep started to germinate, but some kernels didn't have enough moisture to finish the job. What was surprising was that depth, emergence ran about two growth stages behind the other planting depths all season long.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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