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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

April 11, 2024 - 11:13am --

About 15 years ago I had the chance to attend a session of the Farm Journal’s Corn College out in Illinois.  The primary speakers that day were two well-known agronomists, Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer.  Although time has erased much of the event from my mind, there were two discussions that had been imprinted on me.  The first was around the pros and cons of different tillage tools regarding corn root development, which we will discuss another day.  The second was a one sentence statement from Ken.  He said that soybeans are much more adaptable to stress, but corn can’t have a bad day.

I think that this statement has stood the test of time, and that the simplistic tips from 20 years ago still hold true today.  If we want to do our part in helping everyday be a great day for your corn plants, we need to make sure we start with getting the seed in the ground properly.  We know that uneven plant spacing and emergence will reduce yield potential in corn.  The lower the plant population, the more critical spacing becomes.  As a “rule of thumb”, we can expect yields to be reduced about 2 percent for plant spacing gaps of 1 to 3 feet and potentially 5 percent if there are gaps of 4 to 6 feet in the row.  So, working to minimize planter skips is important.

Impacts of uneven emergence

Uneven emergence will generally have a greater impact on grain yield than uneven plant spacing.  Uneven emergence affects corn performance because competition from larger, early-emerged plants decreases the yield from smaller, later-emerging plants.  If the delay in emergence is less than two weeks, replanting increases yields less than 5 percent, regardless of the pattern of unevenness.  However, if one-half or more of the plants in the stand emerge three weeks late or later, then replanting may increase yields up to 10 percent.

Corn sometimes emerges unevenly because of environmental conditions beyond the control of growers.  Timely planter servicing and adjustment, as well as appropriate management practices, can help prevent stand uniformity problems.  I found an old article from former OSU Corn Specialist, Dr. Peter Thomison, that offered the following tips for uniformity of seed placement during planting:

  • Keep the planting speed within the range specified in the planter’s manual.
  • Match the seed grade with the planter plate
  • Check planters with finger pickups for wear on the back plate and brush
  • Check for wear on double-disc openers and seed tubes
  • Make sure seed drop tubes are clean and clear of any obstructions
  • Make sure sprocket settings on the planter transmission are correct.
  • Check for worn chains, stiff chain links, and improper tire pressure.
  • Clean seed tube sensors if a planter monitor is being used
  • Make sure coulters and disc openers are aligned.
  • March the air pressure to the weight of the seed being planted
  • Make planter adjustments and follow lubricant recommendations when using seed-applied insecticides.

Looking for farmers to help with research

In other news, we are still recruiting farmer cooperators to assist OSU researchers in understanding coyote relationships with livestock production.  The current project has collected over 400 samples from coyote carcasses across the state that provided information on coyote diet and demography.  Now they are shifting to investigating coyote movement and behavior in rural Ohio agricultural lands.  They are asking for producers that will allow coyotes to be trapped on their property and the coyotes will be fitted with tracking collars to collect real time data to understand how coyotes interact with livestock.  For more information about the project, or to participate, you go to

This week our April program schedule kicks off with a Beef Quality Assurance certification/recertification program on April 11th from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the OSU Extension office conference room.  This program is free of charge, but we ask you to make a reservation for the evening.  Also, I will be hosting a three session Pastures for Profit series at the Extension office.  The program will be from 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM on April 18th and April 25th.  We will have a hands-on pasture walk to conclude the program from 9:00 AM to noon on April 27th at the OSU Beef Unit on Apple Creek Rd to wrap up the program.   The cost of the program is $50, which covers the manual, a grazing stick, and program supplies.  To register for any of our programs, or if you would like to collaborate with OSU Extension for an on-farm research project, or if you have agriculture related questions, call the OSU Extension office in Wayne County at 330-264-8722.

John Yost is an Extension Educator IV, Agriculture and Natural Resources, at OSU Extension-Wayne County.
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.