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How Deep Do Corn Roots Grow? The Interesting Answer

young shoots of corn with roots

Corn is one of the most essential and widely distributed crops worldwide. It is used in various ways, mainly for its edible kernels, which have an essential purpose in feeding humans and livestock, and even as biofuel. This is why it is crucial to grow a healthy corn plant with a high yield and the most efficient way to ensure this is by promoting healthier root development.

Corn can spread its roots up to 5 feet deep underground, and there have even been examples of corn roots growing up to 7 feet deep. While this variable can change significantly depending on the growing conditions provided, corn still needs to root deeply.

To learn more about how deep corn roots grow, read on below. You will better understand the structure of corn plants and what you can do to improve their health.

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The Importance of Deep Root Growth

The roots of corn can grow as deep as 6 feet underground, and since the roots need to develop deep, planting corn too shallow can be a significant issue. If you plant your corn plant too shallow, it can result in the poor development of the nodal root system and prevent the plant from absorbing nutrients and water from the soil. If your corn receives adequate nutrients from the soil, the plant will be in good health and have higher yields.

Another mistake that often happens is planting corn too deep into the soil. If you mistakenly plant corn too deep, you will put your plant at risk of cooler soil temperatures and delayed emergence. Your crop will be susceptible to insect damage and various diseases because of the delayed emergence, which means the seedling will need to expend more time and energy to emerge.

corn roots
Image By: The natures, Shutterstock

How Wide Do Corn Roots Spread?

While corn roots are known to grow deep, they do not spread in diameter as much. The usual spread of corn roots is between 4 to 5 inches from the stalk in all directions. Usually, the entire diameter of the roots’ width will be between 8 to 10 inches, which is the ideal distance between seeds when planting. The corn plant lacks in width because the primary root needs to grow underground as deep as possible. If the primary root doesn’t receive the appropriate amount of nutrients from the depth of the soil, it will begin spreading tiny hairs in diameter in search of richer soil.

How Deep Do Corn Roots Grow?

Corn is known for developing a profound root system, although this can vary depending on environmental factors and changes. Usually, corn will dig its roots up to 5 feet in the ground, although there have been rare examples of roots that are 6 to 7 feet deep. While corn and its roots are not considered invasive because they are easy to control, they will grow and spread deep into the underground and therefore need plenty of room.

For the ideal outcome, it is recommended to plant your corn crops 1.5 to 3 inches deep and at least 8 inches apart. Providing your plant with these conditions will ensure the roots develop properly, absorbing more nutrients from the soil.

corn roots
Image By: natthawut ngoensanthia, Shutterstock

How to Encourage Deeper Root Development

If you want to make your corn plant grow stronger and improve your yield, the best way to do so is to promote healthier root growth. Luckily, there are ways you can encourage your corn to grow deeper roots by providing ideal growing conditions. You need to ensure your corn has plenty of sun exposure throughout the day and loose, well-draining soil. Proper soil drainage will ensure your plant receives enough water and doesn’t sit in soggy soil.

Adding organic fertilizer can always promote better plant health and is a crucial step in providing your crop with the nutrients it needs to thrive.

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Final Thoughts

As you may have assumed, corn needs to grow roots deep underground to grow well and produce plenty of yield in the form of kernels. Since this plant is so valuable to the food industry worldwide, farmers are doing their best to ensure it has the highest yield possible. One sure way to ensure a crop grows strong and healthy is to improve the root structure and promote deeper root development.

Featured Image Credit: malshkoff, Shutterstock


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