Planting Depth Effects on Corn Harvest Stand and Grain Yield


  • Evaluate planting depth interactions on harvest stand and grain yield among different Pioneer brand® corn products.
  • Determine if higher levels of drought tolerance may provide improved yield stability in shallow planted situations.

Study Description

Research trial locations


Locations and Years:  10 (see map); 2011 and 2012
Plot Size:                       10 X 25 ft., split plot design
Replicates:                    3 per location
Planting Depths :          0.5, 1.5 and 3.0 inches
Pioneer® Brand Hybrids:
    35H42 (HX1, LL, RR2) Drought tolerance = 6
    P0891AM1(AM1, LL, RR2) Drought tolerance = 7
    P0965AM1(AM1, LL, RR2) Drought tolerance = 8

Drought tolerance ratings: 1-9 scale; 9 = Outstanding; 1 = Poor


  • Harvest stand and grain yield were both significantly reduced at 0.5-inch planting depth compared to 1.5- and 3-inch planting depths.
  • Harvest stand was slightly reduced at the 3.0-inch planting depth in 2012; however grain yield was not significantly different from the 1.5-inch depth in either year.
  • All hybrids responded to planting depth similarly in both years, indicating that greater drought tolerance did not improve yield with shallow planting.
  • Results confirm that corn should be planted at depths of at least 1.5 inches with little risk of planting as deep as 3 inches.


Chart - corn harvest stand response to planting depth, 2011, 2012
Chart - Corn yield response to planting depth, 2011, 2012
Chart - corn product yield response to planting depth.


Research conducted by Dr. Peter Thomison, Ohio State University as a part of the 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 three locations in 2011 and 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.

AM1 - Optimum® AcreMax® 1 Insect Protection System with an integrated corn rootworm refuge solution includes HXX, LL, RR2. Optimum AcreMax 1 products contain the LibertyLink® gene and can be sprayed with Liberty® herbicide. The required corn borer refuge can be planted up to half a mile away.

HXX - Herculex® XTRA contains both the Herculex I and Herculex RW genes.
Herculex® XTRA Insect Protection technology by Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Herculex® and the HX logo are registered trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC.


HX1 - Contains the Herculex® I Insect Protection gene which provides protection against European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, black cutworm, fall armyworm, lesser corn stalk borer, southern corn stalk borer, and sugarcane borer; and suppresses corn earworm.
Herculex® I Insect Protection technology by Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Herculex® and the HX logo are registered trademarks of Dow AgroSciences LLC.
Liberty®, LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are trademarks of Bayer.
Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company.

PIONEER® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents.