Planting Green Strategies for Maximizing Corn Emergence

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2019: $29,526.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Pennsylvania State Extension
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Dr. Heidi Reed
Penn State Extension
Zachary Larson
Penn State Extension

Information Products

Farming For Success Field Day Handout (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Planting green or planting a cash crop into a living, standing cover crop has gained widespread success across the Northeast. While many have successfully implemented the practice, possible over-promotion of the technique led to many attempting to plant corn into tall, dense cover crops without rolling prior to planting. Unfortunately, this resulted in many reports of reduced stand populations, poor plant emergence and high plant height deviation. Prior research on corn emergence demonstrated that late emerging corn plants have lower per plant yields, resulting in overall stand yield reductions.  However, little research has been performed to quantify the potential risks of planting corn into un-rolled cover crops.

    This project intends to demonstrate the need to roll cover crops prior to planting corn by documenting the potential negative effects on corn emergence when planting into un-rolled standing cover crops. The project will also determine if the use or absence of row cleaners affects corn emergence. A study, comprised of a split-plot randomized complete block, with rolling as the main treatment and row cleaners as the split plot will be established at two locations in Pennsylvania.  Corn population, plant height, plant height variability and slug damage will be observed.  Available light to the soil surface will be recorded to quantify row shading and plots will be harvested by the cooperating farmer to determine yields. Results from the project will be distributed through a series of field days, workshops and written articles.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposal seeks to determine if planting corn into standing, un-rolled cover crops negatively affects corn emergence and yield when compared to rolling cover crops prior to planting. Furthermore, it seeks to compare the use of row cleaners to create a bare soil strip around the seed slot versus rolling a cover crop adjacent to the seed slot, and its effects on corn emergence, slug damage and yield. The information gained from this proposal will be utilized to help farmers and educators quantify potential risks of planting into standing cover crops and will provide guidance in equipment setup for those wanting to adopt or refine planting green techniques.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.