March 14, 2011
Pop quiz, when planting corn and soybeans, should you error on the side of too deep or too shallow?
According to Channel's Todd Vagts, it depends on the crop. When planting corn, he says the perfect depth is two inches. However, if it's a question of too much or too little downforce, he'd rather see the seed at 2 ½ inches rather than 1 ½ inches.
"I would rather error on the deeper side with corn," Vagts notes. "When you get too shallow, the nodal root establishment can get pushed up toward the soil surface."
Exposing the nodal root establishment too early can put it at higher risk for above-ground predators and weather-related factors such as frost or flooding.
Additionally, Vagts says it's important to recognize that a corn plant can push up through the soil surface even at three inches deep, in the right conditions.
When it comes to soybeans, Vagts shoots for a depth of 1 inch. Unlike corn, he would error on the shallow side when planting. Reason being, the soybean plant pulls the cotyledon with it through the soil surface. If the soil has crusted, the plant has a more difficult task of pulling the cotyledon through the top layer.
"Most growers realize planting depth is important, but I don't know if they understand why it's important," Vagts notes.
In a perfect world, corn seed will be at 2 inches, soybeans at 1 inch. According to Vagts, it's a little excessive to check depth after each pass. However, once at the start of the season is not enough.
He recommends checking at least once per field. More than that is better, but at a minimum he says to check depth after moving to a new field.
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