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Match Roots, Seeds and Soils to Increase Corn Yield

June 23, 2017
This agronomic photo shows corn fibrous, modified, and penetrating roots.

What’s going on beneath the soil often dictates how a crop looks above ground. In corn fields, that translates directly to root quality. When a hybrid’s root type is paired properly with soil type, the two agronomic characteristics team up to help maximize yields.

Although corn roots typically grow 2 feet to 7 feet deep – generally however deep it takes to find moisture – roots are traditionally characterized into 1 of 3 classes, one of which is more fitting for your field:

  • Fibrous (pictured left above): Identified by shallower feeder roots and finer hairs, these roots are ideal for coarse soils because they absorb more nutrients and soil.
  • Penetrating (pictured right above): Classified by deeper roots that push further down into the soil, these structures are ideal for compact layers.
  • Modified (pictured center above): Labelled as a combination of fibrous and penetrating root types, these structures contain finer hairs that dig deeper into the soil.

When corn roots develop their full yield potential, increased branching enables plants to digest water and nutrients more efficiently. Keep in mind a bigger root system doesn’t necessarily mean a better root system. This is because larger roots require greater resources to maintain, which in turn takes energy away from yield production.

To learn more about matching seed and soil type to maximize yield, watch Product Development Agronomist Doug Kirkbride’s roots demonstration here.

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