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Proper Planting Methods Give Corn Reason to Stand

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Written Tuesday, March 05, 2002  

As corn growers ready for this year's growing season, establishing quality stands will be an important focus in their preparation.

Obtaining quality stands -- that is, planting corn uniformly spaced apart that emerges evenly -- is important to the successful growth of the crop and its overall yield potential, said Peter Thomison, Ohio State University agronomist.

"Stand establishment is a key planting issue that receives a lot of attention," Thomison said. "It goes back to the concept of 'picket row fences' -- that evenly-spaced, uniformly developed plants tend to perform better than those that are irregularly planted."

One way growers can achieve quality stands is to pay attention to planting speeds and the depth at which seeds are planted from field to field.

"Planting speed should be no more than 6 miles per hour," Thomison said. "If a grower plants too fast, it may result in less effective seed singulation and less uniform seeding depth, which can effect establishment of the crown roots of the corn plant."

Also, fluctuating seeding depth from field to field tends to bedevil farmers, Thomison said.

"A farmer could start out in one field with seeds 2 inches deep, and then by the time he's at the last field, the seeds might be at a different depth, even though the planter was never adjusted," Thomison said. "They need to be checking their planting depth. Moisture and soil conditions are going to vary, and if seeds are planted fairly high and shallow, roots that form close to the soil surface are subject to those fluctuations and will develop more slowly."

Growers are encouraged to plant 1.5 inches to 2 inches below the soil surface.

"You don't want to have plants coming up two to three weeks apart from one another," Thomison said. "In fields where there are somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 stands, younger plants are at a considerable disadvantage for light, nutrients and moisture. Since they are less competitive, the younger plants will usually be barren at the end of the season, which, of course, has an effect on yields."

Ohio's mild, dry winter may be driving farmers to jump-start the planting season earlier than normal, but soil conditions need to be ideal if farmers are considering such a move, Thomison said.

"I think there is some interest in planting ultra-early -- say, early April or even late March -- rather than traditionally early, like late April or early May," he said. "Our recommendations are such that if soils are dry and well-drained, then it's all right to go ahead and plant. But we emphasize the need for well-drained soils, and there are not too many areas in Ohio that provide that ideal condition at that time of year."

Farmers also may want to consider increasing seeding rates by 10 percent to 15 percent for earlier-than-normal plantings, to compensate for seeds that fail to germinate because of cool temperatures and wet soil conditions, Thomison said.

Additionally, growers are advised to plant full- or late-season hybrids first, followed by mid-season to short-season hybrids. "If they encounter planting delays, their greatest yield loss will be associated with full-season hybrids," Thomison said. "So if growers are running into cool, wet weather, plant full-season hybrids first, then follow-up with the mid to short-season hybrids."

For additional preplanting tips and information, log onto Ohioline at http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/0147.html.


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