How To Plant Corn With A Tractor: 6 Considerations For A Successful Crop

It’s entirely possible to plant corn (maize) by hand, and for a small plot, that’s the perfect way to do it. If you have a large corn field, hand planting can be arduous, back-breaking labor. Additionally, setting out with the wrong circumstances can add to your effort and reduce your chances of success. In this article, we discuss employing good planting techniques and planting corn with a tractor to speed up the process and improve the results. Read on to learn more on how to plant corn with tractor & more.

6 Considerations When Planting A Large Field Of Corn

planting a large field of corn

1. Understand the lay of the land

The best corn field has a 5% slope, is slightly elevated and is in a location that gets full sun all day long. This combination gives you good water distribution, good drainage and plenty of warmth to benefit your corn plants from germination to harvest. When you have this sort of setup, it is possible for you to sow seed corn right into the soil and expect it to germinate promptly and grow well.

2. Choose the right seed corn

There are literally hundreds of different kinds of corn to choose from. To pick the variety that will best suit your needs, think about your goals. For example, if you are able to plant very early in the season, you can choose a variety that matures a bit more slowly.

If you must plant later in the season, look for an early maturing variety so that you can get a good harvest before fall comes.

Alternately, you may wish to try several different varieties to have an ongoing harvest throughout the growing season.

3. Choose a good seed company

If you are just planting corn in your backyard garden, you can purchase just the right amount of seed from your local garden center, online seed supplier or seed catalog. If you’re planting a large plot, you will probably want to buy seed corn by the pound to get the best price.

Compare seed companies to see what sort of discount they’ll give you when you buy in bulk. Check to see if they also offer a loyalty discount to farmers who purchase seed from the same company every year.

Choosing your seed company carefully and sticking with them can result in a number of advantages in the long run. You may get early notification of specials, offers of financing assistance and other perks.

4. Decide on your row spacing and rate of seeding

There are lots of different theories regarding how far apart your corn should be planted. This is something you may wish to discuss with your county agricultural agent and/or your seed supplier. Your decision will be based on a wide variety of factors, including:

  • The type of seed corn you purchase
  • The predicted weather
  • The cost of your seed

In drier weather, you’ll want to plant at a lower rate. In wet years, you can sow your seed corn more densely.

5. Decide when to start planting

This is another question that is best answered by the long-term weather report. You want to begin planting when the soil temperature is reliably 60°F. Starting too soon will delay germination.

Ideally, look for a window of time when the weather is warm for several days and rain is predicted. You want to get your seed corn into the ground when it’s easy to work in the field, your tractor won’t get bogged down and a good drink is on the way to get germination started.

If you are planting a large scale money crop, you must also check on the Federal Crop Insurance dates for your state and adhere to their schedule.

6. Plant corn with a tractor to save time and get uniform results

If you are planting a large field, tilling and preparing the soil with a tractor and planter will help you get a several-days job done in one day. Take care to select the right size equipment to suit your property. You want to make sure there’s plenty of room to navigate without knocking down fences or causing other accidental damage.

A tractor makes work easier throughout the growing season as you can make use of labor saving attachments, such as:

  • Insecticide delivery systems
  • Starter fertilizer applicators
  • Row cleaners

Planting Sweet Corn With A Tractor

On planting day, set your planter up with the seeding rate you have decided upon. Be sure the seed depth is set correctly. Two inches is typically the right depth for planting seed corn.

Be sure that your planter is able to move residue from the rows efficiently as you work. Depth gauge wheels should be adjusted to apply the right downward pressure to plant efficiently without compacting the earth. As you work, watch carefully to be sure you are closing the furrows without creating compacted sidewalls.

You should step down from your tractor periodically to make sure the planter is performing correctly. Changes in the direction and strength of the wind, the temperature and the humidity may make it necessary to adjust your settings as your planting day progresses.

6. Assess and amend your field

When you’ve planted your corn and it’s started to grow, you need to check on it and thin your seedlings as needed so that each one will have ample resources to grow to full potential. You’ll need to do this on foot.

Once you’ve completed this task, you’ll want to perform lay-by. This is another task you can do with a tractor.

Sweet Corn Lay By With Tractor

When your seedlings are about a foot high, apply a good 17-17-17 fertilizer and then run up and down the rows carefully with your tractor straddling your plants to help deliver the fertilizer and a supportive layer of soil all around your young corn.

This practice helps remove weed competition and gives your growing plants a good meal while simultaneously providing them with a little support to help them sink their roots well and withstand high winds as they grow taller.

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Farm & Animals since 2019. Farm animals have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.

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