Corn School: Looking at root development from planting to emergence

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Whether the corn crop is just being planted or is emerging in the field, it’s time to do some digging around.

If the crop hasn’t emerged yet, you can still do some diagnostics to evaluate how everything is going and get a better understanding of the corn root, and how the corn plant is growing.

“You’re going to check on that root development, make sure that it’s growing properly. And then you’re going to check for that mesocotyl and coleoptile,” explains Sara Meidlinger, market development agronomist with PRIDE Seeds, in this Corn School episode. “It’s a great time to check your planting depth too and just see if you’re a bit deep, a bit shallow, and make a bit of a note going into next year when you’re going to start working on the planter.”

Once that seed germinates, the first thing that is going to come out is the radical, says Meidlinger, which always emerges from the tip of the kernel.

Second, you’ll see the coleoptile, followed by the lateral roots. As Meidlinger explains, these are the first few structures that make up the corn plant. At this stage in the game, they are almost solely surviving on the nutrients and starch that is in the endosperm of the kernel.

“As it keeps developing, it’s going to keep growing,” she says. “So this coleoptile is going to keep lengthening. And you’re going to see this little ridge start to develop, and that’s going to develop about three quarters of an inch below the soil surface. The little stretch between the seed and the ridge is called the mesocotyl.”

Meidlinger continues to walk us through the visuals in the video, including the brace roots, nodal roots, and what the roots look like as first leaves emerge:

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