From its very first day, the corn seedling is under attack by much of the world around it. Weeds are the biggest threat, stealing yield from the moment the corn seed settles into the bottom of the seed trench. In this special feature, see why weed control and good early season practices are key to producing high-yielding corn crops.

Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico
Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico
Emergence timing, soil moisture, weather, seed spacing and population all affect yield. Having a weed-free environment, as the seed goes into the ground, is the best way to preserve yield. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

Start Corn Strong - 1

A corn crop can be hurt in many ways on the road to harvest. Some of the worst damage can occur in a young plant's first days of life. Here are some ways you can protect it.

World-record corn yields are born at emergence. Uneven emergence can reduce the yield on late-emerging plants by nearly 25%, according to Randy Dowdy. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Mark Wallheiser)

Start Corn Strong - 2

Randy Dowdy, last year's national corn yield winner, has a quick way to show the perils of uneven corn emergence.

When the weather wouldn't cooperate this past spring, David Hula delayed his planting way longer than he wanted. But he believes waiting for the right conditions will pay off. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Marcus Holman)

Start Corn Strong - 4

David Hula says planter technology prevented this year's month-long planting delay from turning into a catastrophe.

Jay Swede said he likes to use his "contest corn" to evaluate plant populations, fungicides and various fertilizer combinations and usage rates. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Rhonda Brooks)

Start Corn Strong - 5

Jason Swede feeds his corn a fine-tuned combination of nutrients for high yields.

Steve Berger and his dad, Dennis, have been no-till farming since the 1970s in southeast Iowa near Wellman. Steve pointed out producing high corn yields on land that has had no tillage in more than 30 years is unusual and offers many challenges. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Lynn Betts)

Start Corn Strong - 6

Steve Berger does not sacrifice yields in corn fields sown with cover crops and managed with a finely tuned planter.