What Are the Optimal Planting Conditions for Corn?

— Written By Mitch Williams and last updated by
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In order to achieve optimum corn yields, we need to get the corn crop off to a good start. Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State Extension Corn Specialist, has done much research over the past few years showing the importance of uniform emergence.

This video explains that to attain uniform emergence, we need to keep three main factors in mind while planting corn:

  1. Soil Temperature – corn seed germination requires a minimum soil temperature of 50°F.
  2. Soil Moisture – corn seed should have adequate soil moisture when planting. Too much moisture and you can run into disease and reduced stands due to several soil physical factors. Too little moisture and you will have spotty emergence.
  3. Planting Depth – corn seed should normally be planted at 1.5 – 2.5” deep. In an effort to chase soil moisture or overcome wet soils, farmers will sometimes plant more shallow or deep. Planting too deep can reduce stands because the corn seed may not have enough energy to emerge more than 2.5” to reach sunlight. Planting too shallow can cause spotty emergence because of the lack of soil moisture, caused by the soil drying out quickly.

We would like to thank the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina for funding for this video.