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Learning More About the Corn Control System

Corn Root System

Corn has tasseled across the Midwest, and with that, we immediately think about the work that corn is doing to grow those corn kernels. But, the control system working day and night within the plant to develop a healthy crop is quiet and unseen.

What is the control system of the plant? The nodal root system.

The nodal root system is the second set of roots that emerge from the seed. First is the radical root, followed by five to six rings of nodal roots.

Roots Run Deep

These roots grow above the seed that was planted. That’s why planting depth is so important. Ideally, we like to see planting depth at 1.5-2.5 inches to give the nodal root system room to grow.

We do not want the nodal roots to show above the ground. You may see some roots attached to the stalk of the plant, but those are brace roots that only emerge when the plant has been stressed. If your fields have been impacted by stronger winds this growing season, your corn likely has brace roots.

The nodal root system won’t be damaged if it grows above the surface, but this system is very good at absorption and could absorb a herbicide that could damage the plant. Additionally, when these roots are above ground, we lose the anchor that this system provides to the plant, especially during the summer storms we’ve had the last couple of years.

With drought conditions throughout recent years, we’ve also seen that more shallow nodal roots correlate with more signs of increased drought stress. This is because roots absorb moisture and nutrients.

We need nodal roots to grow deep into the ground to absorb as much as possible to provide for the plant. From planting to V3, the seed can provide for the plant. But once the corn plant gets to V4, the nodal roots are established to provide for the plant until harvest.

BW Nodal Root Growth Blog


Once you combine the corn, there is no need for the root system, right? Wrong!

These nodal root systems can continue to provide a positive impact in your fields. Leaving root systems in place by reducing tillage helps grow organic matter much quicker, while also leaving channels for the water, and even worms, to move through.

Some growers across the upper Midwest might find tillage difficult due to the short amount of warmth in the spring before planting.

BW Meltdown is a great solution for clearing residue in the field while leaving the root systems intact. Meltdown transforms last season’s idle crop stubble into highly-nutritional resources for next season’s crops and soil.

Meltdown’s powerful microbial team of 100% naturally occurring microbes, organic acids and nitrogen drives the biological processes for enhanced CO2 cycling. Meltdown promotes higher yields through micro- and macronutrient cycling, germination and growth efficiency and stand optimization—all while protecting the nodal root system.

To see the impact Meltdown has on BW growers’ fields, check out this case study.

Corn Root System


Minimize field preparation by reducing crop stubble

Reduce the wear and tear on your tillage and planting equipment

Nutrient value-per-acre increase of over 64% in independent research studies

Minimize hair-pinning in no-till operations

To learn more, reach out to us and we’ll show you how you can maximize your fields and your root systems!

BW Fusion's innovative team of microbes breaks down crop residue naturally, which returns nutrients to soil faster and improves the health. With Meltdown you can start optimizing your farm for increased yield potential by reclaiming investment dollars!
Bodie Kitchel
Bodie Kitchel
National Director of Agronomy