Plant corn deeper for even emergence and higher yields

It might seem counter-intuitive, but slowing down corn emergence may actually boost yields.

Last fall, RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson took a close look at corn research plots and concluded that optimum distance between corn plants matters far less than uniform emergence. He also discovered that achieving perfectly uniform emergence takes planting deep.

We already know that even emergence is key to top yields, but the mechanism to get there really did surprise even the most seasoned of agronomists. What’s more, in this Corn School episode, Johnson admits he was wrong. Yes, the fastest agronomy mouth in the east fully admits that he was shocked and surprised by the incredible impact of deep planting for even emergence.

In the video below, Johnson shares the yield difference between corn emerging on day 1, day 3, and day 5 from flag test research plots he conducted. He also offers some planting depth guidelines if ultra-even corn emergence is the goal. Johnson describes how corn planted at two inches emerges earlier than deeper-planted corn, however, there is more emergence variability in corn planted at this depth.

“If I plant at three inches into decent conditions, my emergence starts one day later, but on day 1 we get a much bigger chunk of the corn to emerge,” says Johnson. “On day two, almost everything else emerges so I narrow that window of emergence — and that actually increases yields.”

Check out our Corn School emergence flag test videos.

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