How To Grow Sweet Corn

Growing corn is practically an American custom. Corn has been grown in our country for countless years.

And for good reason. Corn is extremely nutritious consisting of numerous vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidants. You can eat it fresh, cook it, maintain it, and grind it into flour.

If you have actually never bitten into a sweet, juicy ear of homegrown corn, then you’re actually losing out!

Fresh homegrown sweet corn is much better than what you can buy at the shop. Consume your garden fresh corn raw, best off the stalk or grill it for a delicious summertime treat.

In this post, I’m going to show you a couple of tips and techniques for planting sweet corn in your garden and show you what to do to ensure you get the sweetest, plumpest ears.

Things initially: know what kind of corn you’re growing

One of the most important factors to think about when you’re growing corn is ensuring you get the best kind of corn seed.

Corn is one of the most typically grown GMO crops in our country. Most home garden enthusiasts won’t need to stress over accidentally growing GMO corn in their garden, however if you live near large corn fields it’s very most likely the corn grown there is genetically modified unless it’s a certified natural farm.

Because corn is wind pollinated, there is an opportunity that GMO pollen might get on your corn plants. For the purposes of house garden enthusiasts, I wouldn’t stress about it. It’s definitely something you require to consider if you’re a licensed natural farmer thinking of adding corn to your farm.

Aside from the GMO element, you require to make sure you’re growing the best type of corn.

There’s sweet corn for fresh eating and cooking, popping corn for popping, field corn used to make flour and other food items, and ornamental corns.

Field Corn

Likewise understood as dent corn and flint corn, field corn is corn grown for animal corn, feed, and cornmeal syrup to name a few things. It’s likewise the kind of corn planted in corn mazes .

Farmers plant entire fields of this type of corn and harvest it after the plants are dead and the ears have dried. It can be consumed if picked when ripe and eaten right now, but this kind of corn is not as sweet as sweet corn.

The sugars in this type of corn are connected together in chains forming starches. The long chains of sugars do not taste as sweet to us, however they are a good source of sluggish release nutrition for farm animals, and the starchiness is fantastic for making cornmeal and cornstarch.

Sweet Corn

Sweet corn is a naturally occurring mutation of field corn in which the sugars are not linked together to form starches so the flavor is sweeter. The sugars begin converting to starch and the sweetness starts to fade as soon as the ear is chosen from the plant.

To fight this, farmers have been reproducing sweet corn for higher sugar material and enhanced service life for many years. So a great deal of the popular ranges of sweet corn are hybrid ranges.

This is not the exact same thing as genetically modified, and you should not fret about requiring to prevent planting hybrid sweet corn seed. Check out hybrid plants here .

Some types of corn are bred to be incredibly duper sweet, some are simply extremely sweet, and some are bred to hold on to that sweetness longer. They’re also bred for enhanced vitality, production, and disease and insect resistance.

Popping and Ornamental Corn

Popping corn is a starchy corn with a hard kernel shell, and, like field corn, it is harvested after the plants have passed away and the ears have dried up.

Decorative corn is a starchy corn that is likewise grown for its look. The corn may be red, purple, striped, or multi-colored. Often the stalks of these plants are likewise ornamental.

brightly colored ornamental corn

Side note about the various types of corn

Every variety has a various taste and purpose. Any kind of corn can be eaten when it’s fresh and soft, and any kind can be ground down to cornmeal when it’s difficult and dry. You can even try to pop any dried corn

The different ranges and types of corn work bestfor their specific purposes. However it’s really all simply corn.

This is not a suggestion that you start growing field corn for fresh consuming. You can if you wish to, but it’s not going to taste like sweet corn.

Likewise, if you utilize sweet corn for cornmeal, be prepared to represent the increased sugar material in the flour.

Tips for purchasing corn seed

These are red striped corn kernels. Corn comes in all sorts of colors!

These are red striped corn kernels. Corn is available in all sorts of colors!

The very best guidance for picking the best corn seed for your garden is to understand what you desire and require, then read the descriptions of the varieties in your seed catalog to make certain that type fits your requirements.

More Gardening Ideas & Resources



We buy our seeds from Johnny’s Baker Creek, and. Burpee . We prefer natural, untreated seeds, but you can get seeds that are pre-treated with fungicide and pesticides.

You can even use a bag of deer corn for planting, but do not anticipate terrific germination. When it was growing, deer corn is field corn and may have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides. So keep these things in mind also.

Can you grow corn from an ear of corn?

Sure. Most likely.

Corn seeds are truly simply dried corn kernels. So you can attempt growing corn from an ear of corn. Just let the ear dry out and plant the kernels.

Some things to think about when searching for corn seed

  • How much space do you have to grow corn?

You want to make sure you permit plenty of space in your garden for growing corn since the majority of ranges of corn make just one or two ears per stalk.

If you do not have a great deal of area, look for varieties that make up to 4 ears of corn per plant.

Uncertain just how much corn to plant? My. garden preparation spreadsheets. can help you out.

  • How long is your growing season?

Corn is a warm weather condition crop that won’t endure frost. Depending upon the variety, corn can be ready to collect anywhere from 60 to 90 days after planting.

Make certain you check the time between your last frost date in the spring and your very first frost date in the fall to understand the length of your growing season.

Plant your corn after the last possibility of frost. You can plant more corn every 10 days up until 60-90 days before your very first frost. Just make sure the range you’re growing will have time to ripen before it gets too cold.

  • How are you preparing to use your corn?

Check the descriptions of the corn range to ensure it will suit your requirements. You may find yourself dissatisfied if you plant a colorful popping corn however are anticipating sweet corn.

  • Do you require illness resistant varieties?

If you’ve grown corn prior to and had trouble with cutworms, wilt, or smut, attempt growing a range resistant to these illness.

We’re growing. Country Gentlemen a treasure shoe-peg range, that can make 3 or more ears per stalk. The irregular kernel pattern on this variety is lovely, but it’s not an incredibly sweet type corn.

Country Gentlemen ear of corn

Our Country Gentlemen ears of corn. Some had the straight rows instead of the shoe-peg pattern we anticipated!

How To Grow Corn In Your Home

Now that you have your seed, it’s time to talk about how to grow corn. The primary step in growing corn is getting it planted. There are a couple of suggestions you must know before you get started.

We have a little patch of sweet corn this year. It’s getting someplace.

Follow these suggestions for planting corn

Where to plant corn

Pick a sunny location safeguarded from strong gusts of wind

Try to find your corn where it will get at least 8 hours of sunlight daily. Even the knee-high stalks of corn can be set by a strong gust of wind, so make certain to avoid parts of your property that get one of the most wind if you can.

Since corn stalks are prone to tipping over, it’s a great concept to ‘hill-up’ your corn plants when they are a couple of inches tall. Hilling up is the term we utilize for pushing dirt up a couple inches around the stalk. This encourages the stalk to put out more roots to assist stabilize the stalk.

Take an appearance at this video so you can see what I imply.

Watch the weather condition

Corn is not tolerant of frost so make sure you plant after the extremely last possibility of frost. If needed, Usage plastic mulch to increase the soil temperature level to a minimum of 60 degrees F.

If you see a few rainy days ahead, it’s an excellent concept to head out and get your seeds in the ground. Seeds will require water to sprout, so why not let Nature assist you get your garden started?

Do not plant your seeds too deep

Planting too deep can make corn seed vulnerable to cooler temperatures and seed-corn maggots. Plant your corn 1 inch deep. You can increase it approximately 2 inches deep if it’s already hot.

Direct seed this crop. Don’t begin your seeds inside

Beginning seeds indoors to get a get on the growing season does not work well for corn. It merely will not tolerate its shallow roots being disturbed for transplanting.

Even using soil blocks, it didn’t work well for us. If you must attempt it, then make sure to use a naturally degradable starting container that can be planted in your garden to decrease root trauma at transplanting.

Plant your corn in blocks for finest germination

Plant corn seeds every 12 inches in blocks of brief rows. This will help with full pollination of your ears. In order to comprehend why you must plant corn in blocks, it assists to take an appearance at corn anatomy.

You understand those little hairs that protrude of an ear of corn? Every one of those is linked to an individual kernel of corn.

Every specific kernel has actually to be pollinated to get a complete, plump ear of corn. The pollen is formed in the tassel located at the top of the plant.

Anatomy of a corn plant

Have you ever opened an ear of corn and discovered missing out on kernels? That is due to insufficient pollination.

Your corn plant relies primarily on the wind for pollination of the ears of corn. By organizing your corn crop in blocks, you guarantee that each ear is surrounded by several plants as sources of pollen.

Do not plant different types of corn beside each other

Because corn is wind-pollinated, various kinds of corn that are planted next to each other WILL cross-pollinate. Pollen from field, popping, decorative, and even different ranges of sweet corn can change the flavor and texture of your sweet corn.

To avoid cross pollination, a distance of 500 feet in between varieties is suggested. So in a backyard garden, you may have to choose just one type of corn to grow.

Corn plant care pointers

  • Fertilizing corn plants: Corn is a heavy feeder in the garden. Change your soil with garden compost at planting and supply a natural fish meal. fertilizer. when the stalks are 6 inches and 2 feet tall.
  • Use mulch to lessen weeds: Corn plants do not like having to contend with weeds, particularly in the very first few weeks. When eliminating weeds, beware not to disturb the plant’s shallow roots.
  • Supporting corn stalks: When your corn plants are 6-12 inches tall, mound some soil up around the base of your plant. This is called hilling up, and it assists your corn stalk endure wind pressure.
  • Watering corn plants: when your corn stalks start to tassel, make certain they have plenty of water. About an inch each week throughout pollination will help ensure fuller ears. Water at the base to prevent rinsing the pollen off the tassels.
  • Should you prune corn? No. Do not prune corn plants.

Growing Sweet Corn Problems

Typical corn insects

Cutworms are a typical insect of corn plants. They feed upon the leaves and stalk of corn plants making holes and can trigger the plant to collapse.

Armyworms and earworms can infest the ears of corn and are frequently found chomping away at the suggestion of the ear. Finding a worm inside an ear of corn must not be trigger for alarm. Simply cut off the ruined part and eat the rest.

Worms eating kernels of corn

Simply kill them and eliminate the affected portion if you find worms in your ears of corn. The rest of the ear is completely edible.

European corn borers will feed upon the leaves and bore into the ears, and cucumber beetle larvae like to eat corn roots.

Organic insect control choices: You can prevent or lessen worms in your corn by applying. Bt a soil-borne germs utilized for natural pest control, and. spinosad a naturally happening pesticide.

Growing corn can also attract birds, raccoons, and deer that can chew on your growing plants and ears. An excellent high or electrical fence can assist hinder deer. Human hair, scarecrows, and flags can likewise make your cornfield less attractive to animal bugs.

Diseases of corn

When you grow corn, you might find that you have to deal with some illness issues.

Corn smut

This infection is a fungal disease of corn which causes bluish inflamed kernels of corn that are filled with spores. If you find these blue-black galls on your corn, eliminate them so they don’t spread out the fungus.

In Mexico, these fungal galls are a special referred to as. huitlacoche. .

Image of corn kernels swollen from corn smut

A number of kernels in this ear were contaminated with corn smut fungi.

We constantly have a couple of ears that get contaminated, so we chose to try it this year. My hubby prepared it with garlic and served it as a side dish with dinner.

It tasted kind of like corn however also had an earthy-mushroom flavor. The texture was not my favorite thing. When prepared by someone more familiar with it, we had actually never tried to cook with it before so it might taste better.

Bacterial wilt in corn

Bacterial wilt is another typical disease of corn. Young plants the get infected might wilt and die. Older plants contaminated with wilt develop yellow streaks or areas on the leaves and whole leaves might turn brown and die.

The finest practice for controlling diseases of corn is to practice excellent crop rotation and plant resistant ranges. Disease resistant ranges of corn may establish signs of illness however will continue to grow and produce ears of corn in spite of infection.

Harvesting and Storing Corn

Sweet corn is all set to gather about 3 weeks after the silks appear. To see if your corn is prepared to harvest, peel back the pointer of the husk and pierce a kernel with your thumbnail.

If you get a spurt of milky substance, your corn is at the perfect stage for harvesting. Eat it or preserve it as soon as possible to preserve the finest flavor.

You need to attempt eating your corn right off the stalk. It’s tasty!

When the silks are dried and the husk is pale, the corn is past its prime for fresh consuming. If you want to collect it for cornmeal, leave the ear on the stalk up until it is dried out.

Your freshly collected corn tastes best in the first 24 hr, so proceed and cook or protect it as quickly as possible.

You can save corn in the husk in your fridge for approximately 3 days. Corn can likewise be frozen, canned, dehydrated, and fermented.

Examine out these links for more information about each approach of saving corn.

Tips for freezing corn.

How to can corn.

Dehydrating corn.

Lacto-fermented corn relish.

Sour corn.

Summing it up

I know this is a long post, and I’ve talked about a lot of different things. So I believed it would be great to end this post with a quick summary of my best.suggestions for growing corn.

  1. Pick the best range. Check out the descriptions of each range in your seed brochure to ensure you’re getting one that works for your growing season and taste preferences. SH2 hybrid corn varieties are the sweetest sweet corn varieties.
  2. Do not plant various ranges or kinds of corn next to each other. They’ll cross pollinate, and that will affect the flavor and texture of completion product.
  3. Plant your corn in blocks, not long rows. Make sure you get the sweetest, plumpest ears this summertime by planting a.minimum of 4 rows of 4 plants each.
  4. Make certain your corn plants get adequate water, particularly after the tassels and silks appear. One inch each week is the suggested quantity.
  5. Corn is a heavy feeder in the garden. Plant your corn in fertile soil and/or add fertilizer at least twice during their growing season.
  6. Pick disease and bug resistant ranges if you have actually had difficulty growing corn prior to.

You need to definitely include corn to your garden this year if you have adequate area. Homegrown corn is right up there with a homegrown tomato for summertime’s finest fruit and vegetables.

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