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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Get Ready to Plant Corn

March 30, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- To put corn on the right track this growing season, focus on proven production practices such as timely planting, high-yielding hybrids and appropriate seeding rates, says an Ohio State University Extension agronomist.


"Follow proven production practices," said Peter Thomison, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "A major consideration is planting date. Aim to complete planting by May 10."

Any later than that, said Thomison, and growers could be looking at a yield hit. The recommended time for planting corn in northern Ohio is April 15 to May 10 and in southern Ohio, April 10 to May 10.

"If soil conditions are dry, growers can begin planting slightly before the optimum date, but avoid early planting on poorly drained soils or those prone to ponding," said Thomison. "Yield reductions resulting from 'mudding the seed in' may be much greater than those resulting from a slight planting delay."

Growers should also choose a high-yielding hybrid and look to those with pest and disease resistance.

"Plant hybrids that have produced consistently high yields across a number of locations or years. Also, select high-yielding Bt rootworm resistant hybrids when planting after corn or where the Western corn rootworm variant is present," said Thomison. "We know that the rootworm variant is spreading in Ohio."

Other tips for successful corn production include:

• Plant hybrids of different maturities to reduce damage from diseases and environmental stress, and spread out harvest time and workload.

• Plant full season hybrids first, then alternately plant mid- and early-season hybrids.

• Adjust seeding depth according to soil conditions. Plant 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Monitor periodically during planting operation.

• Adjust seeding rates on a field-by-field basis. On productive soils, which average 175 bushels per acre or more, final stands of 30,000 to 32,000 plants/acre may be required to maximize yields.

• Make sure the planter is in good working order. Inspect and adjust the planter to improve stand establishment. Slow down to optimize seed placement. Uneven emergence affects crop performance because of competition from larger, early emerging plants.

• Avoid unnecessary phosphorous and potassium application. Utilize soil testing to guide decisions.

• Perform tillage operations only when necessary and under proper soil conditions. Deep tillage should only be performed when a compacted zone is detected and soil conditions are dry (usually late summer).

• Take advantage of crop rotation. Corn grown after soybeans will typically yield 10 percent to 15 percent more than corn grown after corn.

• Determine harvest dates by crop maturity, not the calendar. Harvest loss increases 1 percent to 2 percent for each week of harvest delay. The ideal grain moisture for harvest is 25 percent.

For more information on Ohio's corn crop as the season progresses, refer to OSU Extension's Agronomic Crops Team Web site at

Corn is one of Ohio's most valuable field crop commodities. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, corn production contributes $2.1 billion to agriculture. Feed grain serves as a main component of corn production, but the crop has become an integral source for ethanol.


Candace Pollock
Peter Thomison