Seeding Depth Decisions

AgVenture Product Team - April 18, 2013

Several factors affect the choice of corn seeding depth. AgVenture recommends planting corn to a depth of 2 inches for optimum nodal root development. In loose soils, farmers may need to plant deeper than 2 inches to achieve a final two inch depth. But this year, dry soils are a concern for many farmers and adjusting planting depth may help that corn seed obtain the moisture necessary to germinate. Check your planter manual. Many planters allow seed depth to be adjusted to depths of 3-4 inches. Carefully check actual depth to ensure penetration of seed openers and accurate seed placement. Row cleaners can help improve accuracy. Additional down pressure may be required to achieve adequate seed-to-soil contact. Problems can arise where rainfall seals or crusts soils in deeply planted seedbeds.

Corn planted too shallow is less able to uptake water and nutrients through the roots. It can develop a condition called “rootless corn syndrome”. Plants will fall over due to the lack of nodal root development in dry soil. Where planted too shallow, corn seedlings may be exposed to herbicide residues, increasing the potential for herbicide injury. Irregular planting depth typically results in uneven emergence, non-uniform mesocotyl length and varying plant height. Ask your AgVenture Yield Specialist for our Product Technology Update: Effective Planting Depth and Uniform Spacing bulletin for more details.