Corn Planting Depth Study

Key Points

  • Objective: In this multi-year study, we are evaluating the yield and economic performance of various corn planting depths.
  • Furrow Moisture: Our studies show that the best furrow moisture level to plant at is near a 33% moisture value.
  • Continuous Monitoring: As soil conditions change across your field, and to achieve the ideal planting depth for your field, it’s important to be able to measure moisture in real-time.

Pop quiz! The ideal corn planting depth is...

A) 1.5"
B) 2”
C) 3”
D) second knuckle of index finger

After multiple years of data, the correct answer is that it depends!

As we started to look at the initial data from the PTI farm, we found that the highest-performing planting depth varied year-over-year.

In 2019, 3” planting depth had the highest yield but we couldn’t pinpoint why. Once we overlaid furrow moisture data with ideal planting depth, the correlation became clear!

Ideal planting depth depends on moisture. Soil moisture is a critical component for seed germination, uniform plant emergence, and ultimately crop yield. We’ve discovered that the ideal furrow moisture level to plant at is near a 33% moisture value. This correlated with our highest-yield planting depths.

The ideal planting depth is achieved by measuring the moisture in real-time and adjusting your planting depth to match. You may even find that soil conditions will change across your field. This is why it is critical to have your planter equipped to measure moisture levels and change your planting depth without leaving the cab.

Corn Planting Depth Study Results

In-Depth Study Videos

InsidePTI S2•E12

Planting Depth ‣ Corn

InsidePTI S1•E09

Planting Depth ‣ Corn

Study Details 

Study data collected 2018-2022 at the PTI Farm in Pontiac, IL.

Planting DateVariedRotationCAC
Row Width30"Population36K
Corn Prices

2022 - $6.00

2021 - $5.00

2020 - $3.75

2019 - $3.67

2018 - $3.50


2022 - DK 66-17

2021 - AgriGold 639-70

2020 - AgriGold 641-52VT2

2019 - DKC 54-38

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