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Most farmers have dealt with emergence issues at some point or another. Corn seed is vulnerable to many factors that can impact uniform emergence. Knowing why corn isn’t emerging as it should, can help farmers decide next steps, as well as how to mitigate future problems.

Whether it’s pests, disease, cold injury, or uneven planting depths, a quick dig with a square bottom spade can provide a profile view of the seed trench and provide insight to help answer those lingering questions.

Farmers can get a clean view of the plant growth and soil condition by inserting a spade into the ground around 6 inches from the seed and bracing their hand on the opposite side near the seed. Farmers should look for sidewall compaction and examine the young corn plant for injury.

“It’s really amazing what this will reveal,” said Gary Brinkman, Pioneer Field Agronomist. “The most important thing you want to look at is evaluating the radicle root. It is what really starts the race for these plants.”

Injuries to the radicle roots force the corn plant to rely on its seminal roots and delay emergence. Radicle root damage most often results in stunted growth and smaller plants.