5 THINGS ABOUT THIS PHOTO: GROWING CORN

  1. A corn seed is planted about 1.5 to 2 inches below the soil. Two inches deep is ideal, but there are circumstances (like planting early into cool soils) when planting a bit more shallow might make sense. For optimum root development, corn should never be planted less than 1.5 inches below the soil’s surface.
  2. A long time ago, rows of corn in a field had to be at least 40 inches apart in order to accommodate horses and horse drawn implements. When tractors came along with significantly narrower wheels, farmers started to play with row spacing to determine how they could maximize yield on any given plot of land. Today, the majority of the corn grown in the U.S. is planted in rows 30 inches apart, though some farmers and seed companies experiment with rows that are even closer together than 30 inches, combining more narrow rows with other management practices to try to increase yield.
  3. This corn plant was most likely planted with the help of a GPS system. Tractors, planters, combines, sprayers and virtually all farm equipment can now utilize GPS guidance systems that make planting and caring for crops very efficient. When this seed was planted, the tractor knew exactly where it was planting, and was careful to space the seeds the appropriate distance apart and not to overlap rows which would force corn plants to compete for resources.
  4. Different corn varieties will have different lengths to maturity, which helps farmers select a corn plant that will perform optimally in their growing climate. Farmers also pay attention to the number of days to maturity so that the approximate time to harvest for all their fields can be managed and not every single field will need to be harvested in the same week or on the same day. We can be sure that this corn plant was carefully selected for this field, with a maturity that the farmer felt fit best in his harvest plan.
  5. In this field, something is *almost* about to happen. These corn plants are almost to the stage that farmers will call “closed canopy.” This means that the corn plants and their leaves will finally get big enough that the leaves shade the ground and prevent most weeds from creeping in to steal nutrients. This also means that a farmer can no longer fit a tractor through the field so if any additional farm work needs to be done, it will be done via airplane!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director

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