Planting conditions will have a lasting impact on the overall success of your corn crop. Getting off to a good start is critical for the rest of the year, says Greg Luce, University of Missouri Extension grain crop specialist and research director for the Missouri Soybean Association.
It’s important to plant corn into good soil conditions where there’s optimal soil-to-seed contact, says Luce. Follow these three tips to ensure that your corn crop gets off to the right start.
1. Make sure the soil is at the proper temperature.
“The general rule for corn to germinate and establish rapidly is that the soil temperature should be 50°F. at a 4-inch depth,” says Luce. Then, wait until the temperature remains steady.
2. Don’t plant too shallow.
Planting corn at the correct depth is critical. It allows for proper soil-to-seed contact. Luce has seen farmers reluctant to plant corn deep early in the season. That’s a mistake, and you should keep the depth at 2 inches, says Luce.
Check the depth frequently. It’s a good practice to check each time you switch fields and at the start of the day, says Luce.
Luce has seen more frequent problems from planting too shallow than too deep. Planting at a 2-inch depth allows for uniformity of the stand. It’s placing the seed where moisture level and temperature are the most consistent. Shallow depths have more fluctuation. A shallower planting depth can lead to lodging or even corn injury from preemergence herbicides, says Luce.
“Uneven soil moisture throughout the seed zone is the primary cause of uneven emergence, the results of which can easily be yield losses of 8% to 10%,” says Luce. “If a plant gets behind, it’s difficult for it to recover.”
Shallow planting also hinders root development. If the nodal roots aren’t formed deep enough, you’ll end up with problems throughout the season, says Luce.
“The nodal root system not only helps support the corn plant structurally, but it’s also responsible for uptake of the vast majority of the water and nutrients the plant needs,” says Luce. “A good nodal root system is essential in reducing early-season root lodging as well as helping the plant perform better under drought stress later in the season.”
There are always exceptions to the rule, though. “The conditions of every one of your fields may vary dramatically enough to warrant a slightly different seeding depth for each one,” says Luce.
3. Push populations.
“Ensure that you’re in the right population for your area, hybrid, and yield potential,” says Luce.
Over the years, as corn genetics have progressed, we’ve found that corn can tolerate stress better than it ever could before, says Luce. It can handle the stress of higher populations.
It’s simple: If you aren’t planting at a high enough population, you’re giving up yield, says Luce.
(Source – http://www.agriculture.com/content/corn-planting-tips-for-2016)