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How to Check Planting Depth on Your Fields

July 30, 2013
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
corn planting sample
During an in-field diagnostics session at Farm Journal’s Corn College, attendees learn how to measure planting depth.   

Watch this short videos to see how you can check planting depth on all ages of corn fields.

A lot of corn was planted extremely late this year due to weather challenges. Now that you have different ages of corn growing, it’s a good idea to diagnose those fields to see how your planting management decisions are affecting your yield potential.

At a 2013 Farm Journal Corn College event in Coldwater, Mich., attendees headed to the field to identify the planting depth of two very different fields.

Brad Beutke with Crop-Tech Consulting, shows you how to check planting depth on young corn:

Beutke also shows you how to check planting depth on mature corn:


Missy Bauer, Farm Journal associate field agronomist ays planting depth is important. "Placed at the proper depth there will be good moisture and good seed to soil contact, or you won’t get even emergence."

Bauer says as a rule of thumb proper planting depth will range from 1 ¾" to 2" deep.

"We say that is the range because that is where we typically see good consistency with soil moisture," Bauer says. "Also, the crown of the plant is at ¾" below the soil surface so if you get too shallow, you won’t get good crown root development."

She says that very early in the season, if it’s cold, farmers may want to shallow to 1 ½" but should never go more shallow than that. And if there isn’t good moisture at 2", going to 2 ¼" could be okay.

Bauer also notes to make sure the depth isn’t just set once—check field by field, check daily, and respect changes in soil types.

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