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2017 Minnesota Corn Planting Conditions

Source: Dave Nicolai, Extension Educator, Crops, UMN Extension

Warmer and drier than normal conditions improved days suitable for field work to 2.7 days during the week ending April 9, 2017 in Minnesota , according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities for the week included fertilizer application, manure hauling, and tilling fields. Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 3 percent short, 79 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus while subsoil moisture supplies were rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 81 percent adequate, and 17 percent surplus. Recent cooler weather has resulted in some lower soil temperatures ranging from 45 degrees at Lamberton and 48 degrees at Blue Earth on April 11th.

Key factors for successful corn planting

Dr. Jeff Coulter, University of Minnesota Extension Corn Specialist recently posted some corn planting guidelines for the 2017 planting season on the U of MN Crop News site located at These guidelines include the following keys to successful corn planting and establishment.

Soil conditions: Avoid tillage and planting when soils are wet. In general, a field is ready for seedbed preparation when soil in the depth of tillage crumbles when squeezed. Pre-plant tillage when soils are wet can create a cloddy seedbed that reduces seed-to- soil contact. Achieving excellent seed-to- soil contact is essential for rapid and uniform imbibition of moisture by seeds and uniform emergence.

Tillage when soils are wet can also create a compacted layer below the depth of tillage that can restrict root development. Sidewall compaction occurs when planter disc openers cut through wet fine-textured soil, resulting in compacted soil around the seed that is difficult for nodal roots to penetrate. In addition, seed furrows can open after planting in such conditions, resulting in poor seed-to- soil contact.

Planting depth: A planting depth of 2 inches is optimal for corn in most situations in Minnesota. Shallow placement of seed increases the risk of poor nodal root establishment.

Soil Temperature: Risk of inadequate stand establishment is reduced if corn is planted when soil in the seed zone has reached or is near 50°F and is expected to warm.

Planting Date: Maximum corn yield is generally obtained in Minnesota when planting occurs in late April or early May. In years when warm weather arrives earlier than normal, planting in mid-April can produce similar yield if young corn plants are not significantly damaged by a freeze in May.

Planting Rate: Optimal planting rates for corn in Minnesota are generally 34,000 to 36,000 seeds per acre. This can vary somewhat with hybrid, soil productivity, and expected yield. Too great of planting rate generally does not reduce corn yield but can reduce economic net return.


David Nicolai
Extension Educator, Crops & Institute for Ag Prof Coord
(651) 480-7706
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