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Published 12 May 2006

Take Time to Evaluate Corn Stand Establishment

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R.L. (Bob) Nielsen
Agronomy Dept., Purdue Univ.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2054
Email address:

ith the majority of Indiana's corn crop planted, the next phase of the growing season is stand establishment. Growers intuitively strive for fields of corn with evenly spaced plants that emerge quickly and uniformly.

Uneven emergence can be caused by spatial variability for seeding depth, seed-to-soil coverage, seedbed moisture, seedbed temperature, or damage from soil-borne insects and diseases. Uneven plant spacing within the row is most commonly due to problems related to the planter, including worn seed meter components, poorly lubricated chains and fittings, mismatch of seed size with seed meters, and excessive planting speed. Stand losses due to pests or weather often result not only in lower plant densities, but also in unevenly spaced survivors. Corn that initially emerges and develops uniformly through early leaf stages can take a turn for the worse around the three- to four-leaf stage if the kernel or mesocotyl is damaged by insect or disease prior to the successful development of nodal roots from the crown area of the plant.

Take time over the next few weeks to assess the uniformity of stand establishment in fields as plants emerge and develop through their early leaf stages. Identify the cause(s) of uneven stands before the evidence disappears and determine whether changes in your planting operation or agronomic decisions may improve the odds of uniform stand establishment in the future.

Related References

Nielsen, R.L. 2001. Stand Establishment Variability in Corn (AGRY-91-01). Purdue Univ. Online at [URL verified 5/12/06].

Nielsen, R.L. 2006. Effect of Plant Spacing Variability on Corn Grain Yield: 2005 Research Update. Purdue Univ. Online at [URL verified 5/12/06].


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