Corn plants will most certainly grow in most types of soils, but to nurture the plant till it produces cobs or ears is not a simple task. You need to be aware of what it takes from the time you plant seeds to the time the cobs are ripe for harvesting. The plant is a heavy feeder, and for the cobs to mature, the plant must accumulate enough heat or heat units for the time when it is growing. Its daily length or its size does not determine the quality of yield.
When the chilling spring frost is over, corn need temperatures that exceed 50 F. This amount of heat is suitable for the heat units to be created. And since corn grow taller than most garden plants; they shade other crops such as vegetables. There are many varieties of the crop that do well in different parts of the world. Before you sow the seeds, find out from your local agricultural officer which is the best type of corn for you particular area.
Like most other crops, the first step to corn growing is land preparation. The crop requires a lot of space so ensure that you have enough space for the corn. Plough the land thoroughly to ensure that weeds are removed. In some parts of the world, corn is grown all year round so long as there is enough precipitation, but in other regions, it is important to know the planting season. Late April to early June is the ideal time for planting the crop.
Since corn is quite vulnerable to extremely cold conditions or frost, make sure there is no danger of frost when you plant the seeds. Plant the seeds after the soil has reasonably warmed up. The seeds need about 60 degrees to germinate. You must not attempt to transplant corn because they often die when they are transplanted. It takes seven to ten days for the seeds to germinate.
Your garden might be in an area of short seasons, and you could want to plant them indoors. In this case, you should use biodegradable containers so the plant’s roots will not be disturbed during the time of transplanting. To speed up the process of warming the soil when the cold weather persists, you can spread black plastic sheets to warm the soil in the planting area.
The patch for corn planting should be sited on a wind-protected and sunny area. To get the best yields, plant you seeds in a piece of land where you previously grew clover, hairy vetch or beans which enrich the soil. Corn is a heavy-feeding plant particularly on nitrogen.
Seeds should be sown just 1 inch deep during early planting, but when the hot midsummer weather has set in, you can plant them up to 2 inches deep. Seeds can be planted at intervals of seven to fifteen inches because the average rate of germination for corn is almost 75 percent. Depending on the variety of corn, plant one to three seeds in one hole. If they are more than that, thin them after they grow above the soil level. Take care not to disturb the remaining plants when you remove the unwanted seedlings.
Apart from being a heavy-feeder, the crop is susceptible to the presence of weeds. Use the most efficient method of weed control to remove all weeds around the corn-stalk because the crop cannot compete well with weeds. You should do this when the corn is about 3 inches during the first month of their growth. When weeding, take enough care not to disturb the plant’s roots. When they are growing, the shallow roots can spread out almost a half a foot from the stalk. To protect the roots from damage, you can add mulch to stop the weeds from growing.
You should plant corn in circles or in blocks to encourage cross-pollination between the plants. And when corn is growing add manure or compost beneath each seed farrow. In the row, they should be 8-10 inches apart, but the double eared or large varieties should be planted at least 24 inches apart. Ensure that the corn is weed-free until they are above knee height.
Top Dressing with Nutrients
Compost fertilizers, fish-based organic nutrients and blood meal are ideal for side dressing the corn crop when the stalks are about 6 inches. The process should be repeated when the crop is about knee-high. Cutting any side growths or suckers might damage the roots of corn, so do not attempt to pluck them off because they cause no harm to the corn.
When the stalks start tasseling, the corn will require about an inch of water weekly. To avoid getting corn ears with a lot of missing kennels, ensure that the crop gets sufficient water. You can apply the water to the soil using drip irrigation of a hose for soaking, but when the rains are enough, you shouldn’t worry.
Maturity and Harvesting
Different types of corn crops mature at different time intervals, however, majority take 2-3 months to ripen. The days to maturity are often listed for each variety on the seed packet. The best way to know whether the corn is ripe is to check for the silks at the top of the ear. When they turn brown and dry as the corn begins to droop then the ears are ready. When cut, the kernels also produce a milky fluid or juice. Harvesting should commence once the husks of the plants have turned dry and yellow brown in late summer or early fall.