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Here’s a Crappy Corn Stand Recipe

Purdue’s Bob Nielsen gives this tongue-in-cheek recipe for a corn stand you’d only want on somebody else’s field.

Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension agronomist, authored this article in the most recent Purdue University Pest and Crop Newsletter. 

Every year, I receive lots of phone calls from folks wanting to know why their neighbor’s fields of corn ended up with such poor, uneven, lousy-looking stands. Since some seem so ecstatic about this happening to their neighbors, I figured maybe they would like to know how to prepare a crappy stand of corn for themselves next year.

The following recipe will prepare one helping of a crappy stand of corn. Add more acreage as desired.


  • One (1) field, level and poorly drained.
  • Any winter annual weeds or cover crops burned down at the last possible moment.
  • One (1) or more hybrids of your choice, but preferably ones with poor seed quality and low vigor.
  • Zero starter fertilizer. However, an ample amount of starter fertilizer placed right next to the seed will add a little zing to the recipe.
  • A dash of seed rot or seedling blight organisms.
  • A pinch of wireworms or seedcorn maggots.
  • Plenty of spring tillage to maximize soil compaction, though one pass with a disk will suffice if the soil is “on the wet side” when worked.
  • Flavor with acetanilide or growth regulator herbicides as desired.
  • Minimum of 1 inch of rain per week after planting to maintain saturated soil conditions.
  • One or more severe frost events to provide a nice, crisp appearance to the plants.


  • Mix well and plant as early as possible no matter how cold or wet the soils.
  • Maintain average daily soil temperatures at 50°F. or less for three weeks or more after planting.
  • Plant “on the wet side” to ensure good sidewall compaction.
  • Plant either excessively deep or excessively shallow.
  • Plant as fast as you possibly can to ensure uneven seed drop.
  • For best results, follow corn with corn, especially with minimal fall tillage.
  • Top off with a thick soil crust and serve cold.

Will serve six people (farmer, fertilizer and ag chemical dealer, industry tech rep, seed dealer, county agent, university specialist) and amuse the entire neighborhood.


This recipe is provided tongue in cheek as a reminder that stand establishment is one of the most important phases of the entire corn growing season. Success or failure during stand establishment impacts not only final plant population, but also ear size determination once the crop moves into the rapid growth phase. Let’s be careful out there!

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