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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Follow Good Practices When Planting Corn

April 22, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio corn growers may be itching to get their crop in the ground, but they should keep a few guidelines in mind before rushing to plant to ensure maximum yields. Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that such practices as planting into wet soils, planting too shallow or too deep and planting uneven row spaces could come back to haunt growers later in the growing season. “Some major attention should be given right now to those practices that will ensure a good stand throughout the season and potentially high yields,” said Thomison. Some counties have reported as much as 20 percent to 40 percent of the corn acreage as being planted. But due to varying rainfall patterns across the state, less than 5 percent of the crop has been planted overall. “One thing that contributed to high yields last year was the fact that we got the corn crop off to an early start — about three weeks earlier than normal,” said Thomison. “But growers want to make sure their fields are suited for planting. We don’t want growers to be planting into wet soils. That’s just going to put a ceiling on yield potential.” He encourages growers to plant as soon as possible if field conditions permit, but if fields are wetter than normal growers should push back planting expectations. Planting into wet soils will cause poor root development and this could have a negative impact on crop performance, especially if the latter half of the growing season is hot and dry. Thomison said that seeding depth is also important for good crop performance. The general recommendation is to plant between an inch and a half to two inches deep, but the key is to monitor planting depth as different fields are planted. “Growers should be checking the seed depth in each field and adjust their planter for each field situation,” said Thomison. “Growers are using big planters and there may be variability from one unit to another.” In addition, growers should aim for uniform plant spacing and emergence. “Doubling up the seed usually won’t hurt the yield potential too much, but what hurts yields are gaps,” said Thomison. “Corn plants can’t compensate for the gaps and skips as well as soybeans, and the gaps also invite weeds to come in and compete with other plants.” Growers should perform secondary tillage operations only when necessary; compaction from tillage practices can reduce crop yields. Growers should target mid-May for the completion of corn planting. The recommended time for planting corn in northern Ohio is April 15 to May 10 and in southern Ohio, April 10 to May 10.

Candace Pollock
Peter Thomison