Effect of Seed Orientation on Corn Grain and Silage Yield


  • Corn seeds planted with the tip downward emerge faster than seeds planted with other orientations.
  • With kernels planted tip down, the first leaves of the corn plant generally emerge parallel to the germ.


  • Measure corn grain and silage yield responses to seeds planted conventionally (corn planter) versus seeds planted manually point downward with germs facing either adjacent rows or within their own row.

Study Description

  • Devices were constructed to manually plant corn kernels tip downward and to orient the germ (see photo below).

Photo: research device
  • In 2011, 2 hybrids and in 2012, 3 hybrids were planted conventionally or with tip downward.
  • For kernels with their tip down, the germ faced seeds in adjacent rows (across row) or the same row (within row).
  • Orientations of first and ear leaves were measured.
  • Plant and grain weights were measured at silage and grain harvest; potential milk yield from silage was calculated from nutrient composition of plants.


Photo: random vs. oriented corn seedlings


  • 89% of first leaves and 31% of ear leaves were oriented within 45° of the germ direction.
  • Averaged across germ directions, seeds with tips downward had 19% to 22% greater grain and silage yields and potential milk/acre.
  • Milk/ton of silage was not affected by tip direction, indicating that plant composition was not altered.
  • Orienting the germ toward adjacent rows resulted in 6% to 8% greater grain, silage and potential milk yield than having the germ face other seeds within the row.
  • Orienting kernels tip downward with their germ facing adjacent rows appears to have potential to enhance grain and silage yield.

Chart: research results

Research conducted by Dr. Paul Walker, Illinois State University, as a part of Pioneer Crop Management Research Awards (CMRA) Program. This program provides funds for agronomic and precision farming studies by university and USDA cooperators throughout North America. The awards extend for up to 4 years and address crop management information needs of Pioneer agronomists, Pioneer sales professionals and customers.

2011-2012 data are based on average of all comparisons made in one location through Dec. 31, 2012. Multi-year and multi-location is a better predictor of future performance. Do not use these or any other data from a limited number of trials as a significant factor in product selection. Product responses are variable and subject to a variety of environmental, disease, and pest pressures. Individual results may vary.