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The Proper Planting Depth

October 19, 2011
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Farm Journal Machinery Editor and Test Plot Director

One of the first steps to a successful corn crop is confirming that you are placing the seed at the proper depth.

“Planting depth is important,” says Missy Bauer, Farm Journal associate field agronomist. “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,” Bayer 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.  
To check depth, Bauer says the best way is to dig behind the planter.
“Get in the row, start scraping soil back, and look for seed but don’t knock the seed out as you scrape,” she says. “Then take something flat and lay it level across the furrow and then measure down to the seed.”
It’s important to ensure that your planting depth is correct across the planter. For some short cuts watch the segment in Episode 3 below.
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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