Cultivation of corn: the spotlight of summer time

If you ask a gardener, he'll tell you that maize grows much better on your own. Now you can take our word for it or find out for yourself! You will find that not only is it tasty, but growing corn is easy and extremely rewarding. No wonder this plant is one of the best grown plants in the world.

Corn is found on all continents populated by humans, where it is mainly grown for animal and human consumption. It is such a large industry that over 1 billion tons of corn are produced worldwide every year. One of the main reasons why this culture is so popular is that it can easily be genetically modified. So there are varieties that thrive in almost every place. This trait is also ideal for genetic and botanical research.

This harvest is as old as it is popular. His close ancestors came from prehistoric times. Corn itself was domesticated by Teosinte (a wild grass) in Central and South America over 6000 years ago. Later, in the 14th century, Columbus introduced maize to Europe, where it quickly spread to the rest of the world.

No wonder the sweet corn cobs we eat today have been changed by people for thousands of years. What was once a simple grain is now the star of agriculture – and our gardens. We eat it raw or cooked. The grains are ground into flour. It is processed into cornstarch, bread, muesli, oil, syrup and even coffee. Corn even has non-culinary uses such as medicine, cosmetics, biofuels, and more.

As a humble gardener, our goal is to convert this important food source into a simple, home-grown crop. Learn how to grow sweet corn and you'll appreciate a really great harvest with farmers around the world.

Good products for growing sweet corn:

Brief instructions on care

Cultivation of maizeGrowing corn is surprisingly easy and you get delicious fresh products too. Source: Rh +

Common Name (s) Sweet corn, corn
Scientific name Zea mays
Days to harvest 50-75 days
light Full sun
water medium
ground Well permeable
fertilizer Multiple nitrogen applications
Pests Corn earwig, European corn borer, army worms
Diseases Corn brandy, anthracnose

All about sweet corn

Ear of cornJuicy sweet corn is popular to grow and very tasty. Source: OSU

Before we go any further, let's give a brief anatomical overview. Corn grows on a bamboo-like stalk that can reach 6 feet tall. The leaves are large and elongated and come straight from the stem. The plants are single-headed, which means that each plant has male and female organs, but they are on separate flowers. At the top of the stem we have the tassel. This spiky, golden flower keeps the pollen where it can be easily carried away by the wind. At the bottom of each ear of corn is the female flower – the silk. These thin fibers carry the pollen to the seeds on the flask, which then develop. So if you bite into an ear of corn, you are actually eating the seeds of the plant.

When it comes to corn, the whole vegetable / fruit debate is complicated. From a culinary point of view, corn has all the properties of a vegetable. Botanically speaking, it is considered a fruit because the part we eat contains seeds. However, corn is ultimately a cereal because it is derived from grasses and is grown for its seeds, which are considered to be cereals.

The nickname "corn" comes from the Taino word "Mahiz" and means "bread of life". This was changed to the Spanish term "maiz" after the Tainos were conquered by invaders from Spain. Today "maiz" is considered the common name, although "maize" is written in English. In fact, the United States is the only country that commonly calls this crop “corn”.

Despite its unique terminology, the United States is the country with the largest crop of sweet corn, followed by China and Brazil. Corn occupies over 80 million acres of US land and includes 316,000 farms. Most of this country has been referred to as the "corn belt" that spans North Dakota, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas and everywhere in between.

Corn varieties

There are so many varieties of Zea mays that we may not be able to discuss them all. To keep them organized, they were all divided into several groups according to their characteristics. Here are the most popular of which you are sure to hear about your corn growing adventures.

Sweetcorn is the group we will focus on in this article as it is the most common choice for home gardens. It converts glucose to starch more slowly than other types, which gives it a super sweet taste. It is also harvested immaturely before the starch sets in. Some varieties of sweet corn don't pollinate well with others, so you need to follow the instructions on planting the companions on the seed pack. Some of our favorite strains are Bodacious, Peaches and Cream and Silver Princess.

Popcorn is not only a fun snack, but also a corn variety! It produces colorful, hard-skinned grains that are full of granulated starch. When heated, pressure builds up in the core until it "bursts" with its inner strength. The starch crystallizes quickly and forms the swollen pleasure that we love. If you want to try popcorn, check out the varieties of carousel, strawberry and glass gem.

Flint corn, also called Indian corn, is often harvested for decorative purposes due to its decorative grains. You can find it in different colors, from deep burgundy to sunny yellow to gray blue. In the business world, however, more attention is paid to the hardness of the grains, making them ideal for shipping. It is usually used to make oil, grain, silage and flour. If you're looking for a rainbow with fall decorations, try Candy Red, Wade & # 39; s Giant, and Hopi Blue.

Dent corn is the largest commercial variety grown in the United States, China and Europe. Like flint corn, it is mainly used for oil, grain, silage and flour. It was quite a hybridization that focused on developing unique starch properties. When used in the garden, you will find that Dent varieties have some pretty interesting colors and patterns. Check out the varieties Earth Tones, Oaxacan Green and Bloody Butcher to see for yourself.

Plant corn

Young corn plantsThese young corn stalks reach an average height of six feet. Source: agrilifetoday

Before you start preparing a summer meal, we'll look at planting corn. Corn is most commonly planted from seeds. You can try to find a few starts, but most garden shops don't run them because corn seeds willingly sprout. Wait until two weeks after the last frost, as it is not hardy. The soil must be at least 60 ° F for the seeds to grow properly.

You can start your seeds indoors so that you have an earlier harvest. If you grow maize in April, soil sowing can usually be done in May, depending on your location. These are fast breeders, so you don't want to plant them indoors too soon.

Each corn stalk only grows 1-3 ears of corn and they are best when eaten immediately. However, you can to plan for a continuous harvest by staggering the planting. Most gardeners prefer to plant a group of seeds every 2-3 weeks in the spring, which results in multiple harvests throughout the summer. This works especially well when you use a combination of early, medium and late strains.

Choose a place in the garden, which is in full sun and exposed to some wind for pollination. Corn stalks are quite high, so they cast some shade. Remember when you put them next to other plants.

There is a reason why corn plants grow in rows and form the archaic corn field. Corn depends on wind pollination, which is easily possible with at least a dozen stalks. Multiple rows ensure that the pollen reaches a different stem, regardless of the direction the wind is blowing.

If you want to try several varieties, keep them at least 50 feet apart. Many varieties of corn do not pollinate well, which leads to undeveloped grains. You can avoid this further by planting each variety at least 14 days apart so that it blooms at different times.

After deciding where and when to grow corn, Sow Each seed is 1-2 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart. If the soil is very loose, plant the seeds 3-4 inches deep. At a distance from sweet corn, each row should be 2 to 4 feet apart. If they have sprouted, which usually takes only 5 days or less, dilute them 8 to 12 inches apart. Since the fibrous, flat roots are easily disturbed, cut off the unwanted corn plants on the stalk instead of uprooting them.


Corn with husk and silkA beautiful ear of corn is hidden under the bowl and silk. Source: BarbaraLN

Now that they are planted, you need to know how to grow corn. You shouldn't have a problem growing the corn stalks. However, what you have to consider is the grain development. Here's what you need to do to get the most delicious results.

Sun and temperature

It is said that you can sit down on a hot day and see the corn growing. Though it grows quickly in the heat, temperatures above 90 ° F can slow growth. The same can happen at cold temperatures. The temperature should be between 65 and 90 ° F for optimal growth.

The required temperatures can be reached in zones 2-11. In addition to the heat, give your corn plants full sun. The bowls can be sunburnt a little over high heat, but this does not normally affect the grains as they are well protected.

Irrigation and humidity

Corn needs a lot of water, especially as the grains grow. Keep the soil evenly moist, which may mean watering more often in hot weather. If your plants don't get enough water, the stalk will quickly wither. However, catch this early and it should improve again.

Avoid getting the stem wet when watering, as this can affect pollination. A good method is to use drip lines that slowly drop water 1-2 times a week for several hours.


You can grow corn in a variety of soil textures as long as they drain well. The pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. It is also very important that the soil has plenty of organic matter ready for the hungry plant. To best achieve this, add some compost in the fall before planting to leave enough time to get into the soil. Add the compost at least one month before planting.


Young corn fieldYoung maize plants developing in a large field. Source: Rh +

Corn plants are very heavy feed when it comes to nitrogen. This macronutrient makes the stems grow quickly and green. You should apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil at least twice a year. The first application should be added when the seedlings have 3-4 leaves or are about 6-12 inches tall. Add a second dose of fertilizer about 3 weeks later. Optionally, you can continue fertilizing as needed throughout the season.

A general rule for dosing – depending on the fertilizer – is one cup per 10 square feet. After application, the fertilizer should be watered into the soil. Some good organic fertilizers with a lot of nitrogen are feather meal and blood meal. You will find that both have many amazing benefits for your corn plant and are easy to buy online.


Corn does not have to be pruned in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of manicuring a shape, we prune corn plants by cutting everything off at the end of the growing season. You can cut and chop them at ground level, or do both by running them over with a high-performance mower. The botched remains can decompose in the ground until the next spring until they reach the ground.

If your corn stalks are infected with a disease or insect infestation, it is better to cut the stalks off and destroy them elsewhere. Otherwise, the infection can spread to next year's crop.


Corn grows from seeds so well that it is not necessary to be creative with other methods of propagation. If you want to duplicate a friend's plant, the best thing to do is ask for a ripe corn cob from which you can harvest seeds. Make sure it's an heirloom variety because hybrids are usually sterile.

The plunger should remain on the stem until it dries up. Stay alert when it dries out, otherwise insects can get into the kernels before doing so. After picking it, remove the peel and keep the flask in a cool and dry place for a few days so it can dry out further. If it is dry enough, you can remove the seeds by turning the plunger in your hands.

Store the seeds in a jar with a moisture absorber or in a paper envelope in a cool, dark place for the winter. They should be used the following spring to achieve the highest likelihood of germination. If you plan to save your own seeds every year, do so from a variety of varieties. This gives the gene pool a variation so you get a good harvest year after year.

Harvest and store

Maize with the husk withdrawnLet the corn dry on the plant to save the seeds. Pull back the bowl to check for dryness. Source: Philwarren

Harvesting your corn crop is as easy as growing it – probably easier! However, there are some guidelines that we will cover below.


Knowing when to harvest corn is the first step. Depending on the variety and planting time, the harvest takes place from midsummer to autumn. After the tassels have grown, it usually takes about 3 weeks for the plants to produce ready-to-harvest corn. It is recommended to harvest in the morning or evening to get the best possible taste.

Sweet corn is best for eating when it is still immature. Look for pistons that have a tight shell and feel full and firm. Check maturity further by peeling the peel and examining the grains. They are large, smooth and contain a milky liquid. The silk is dark brown and starts to dry.

As the kernels get older, they appear wrinkled. You can still harvest and eat it at this point, but with younger grains you get the best taste. However, this is really a matter of personal preference. So you are responsible!

Once you've selected a tasty plunger, loosen it from the stem by pulling it down. It should break off immediately with a small piece of stem sticking out of the bottom of the piston. This will be removed when you prepare it for eating.


From the moment you pick a cob of corn, it slowly loses its sweetness. It loses half of its sugar on the first day after harvest – which is why it is better native than in the shop. The best way to preserve this aroma is to pick it, peel it, and start cooking right away.

If you do not have access to commercial machinery, peel the corn by hand. Simply remove all layers of peel, peel off the silk and remove any remnants of the stem from the bottom of the piston. It can be difficult to completely remove the silk without long picking it.

Cook corn by cooking it, grilling it, or even cooking it in the microwave. On cool summer nights you can prepare hot coals in a fireplace, wrap the unshelled flask in foil and cook directly on the coals.

If you need to store your flasks a bit, keep them in the refrigerator with the trays on. They should be eaten within 1-2 days. You can also freeze corn, although the seeds are somewhat mushy after thawing. Blanch it first, then freeze it completely, or remove the seeds and freeze them. Store your corn in an airtight container that can be kept for up to a year.


Little ear begins to formThis tiny ear of corn will develop into a big ear of corn over time. Source: Tobyotter

There are many disease and pest resistant corn varieties, but you still need to be prepared for potential problems. Pay attention to the following problems.

Growing problems

Tooth corn is a frustrating but avoidable problem. Each kernel is pollinated separately. If pollination is insufficient, only a few are mature. To solve this, examine the formation of your corn stalks. Are they too close to each other? Too far apart? Is something blocking all the wind? Make sure you plant in a square or rectangle so the pollen lands on a stem no matter where it blows.

Cats and raccoons have a sweet tooth for sweet corn. They pull the pistons down and eat them, often breaking the entire stem. There are several ways to keep these cute but destructive animals away from your corn. Most of them are short-term and should be used alternately. This includes applying things like rauburin, coffee grounds or blood flour. Planting pumpkin or other prickly plants around the base of your corn also works because animals don't like to be pushed off the vines. The most effective, however, are motion-activated sprinklers because no animals like to be sprayed.

Magnesium deficiency shows up as yellow, intervening streaks in older leaves (chlorosis). When the condition worsens, the leaves are reddish-purple in color and necrotic around the edges. This can lead to a lack of uniformity in growth or reduce the yield. Have your floor tested to make sure that this is the problem before you treat it and that it is not a pest problem. If your soil test results indicate a magnesium deficiency, check your fertilizer to make sure it contains some magnesium. If not, you should switch to a different mix of fertilizers.


Corn cobs are moth larvae that pose the greatest threat to US sweet corn. They get through the silk into the maize plants and feed on the grains. Once established, these pests can no longer be removed from the stem. You can prevent the infestation by planting early season varieties, since the larval eggs are only laid later. For further prevention, spray an organic insecticide on the silk and the top of each piston when the silk is just beginning to form. Repeat this every 3-5 days until the silk turns brown.

Another dangerous pest, the European corn borer, enters through the stem and feeds on plant tissue, the tassel and pretty much everything else. The stem can break at the entry point and become susceptible to disease. The use of a liquid insecticide just before and during tassel growth should keep the drill at bay. Corn borer hibernate in the stalks, so make sure to destroy or mow them well.

Army worms are other moth larvae that are as destructive as they sound. They feed in large groups and move from one corn stalk to the next. BT spray is an excellent way to get rid of these pests. One of the best ways to prevent them is to invite useful predators into your garden. Ladybugs, lacewings, useful nematodes and even parasitic wasps feed on or otherwise destroy armyworm populations.


Corn brandy is a disease caused by fungi that begins as light galls that expand and darken. Eventually, they explode, releasing hundreds of spores that migrate to other plants. Although most gardeners consider this to be a total loss of crop, some crops eat corn brandy as a delicacy. If you see galls, remove them immediately before they burst. The fungus invades the plant's wounds. Therefore, keep harmful insects, animals and materials away. As the fungus hibernates in the ground, completely destroy the stems in autumn and turn your plants.

Anthracnose is a fungus that can lead to leaf rot and / or stalk rot. It shows up as long, brown spots on the leaves and the stem, which are outlined in brown. It can cause putrefaction, but is rarely fatal. If possible, use resistant varieties to keep this fungus under control. It hibernates in the ground, destroying infected maize plants instead of ordering them, and practicing crop rotation.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Is corn difficult to grow?

A: No, but there are some requirements. As long as you pay attention to placement, irrigation and pest control, growing maize plants is very easy.

Q: Does corn grow back every year?

A: No, it is a yearbook that needs to be replaced every year.

Q: How much corn do you get from a plant?

A: A stem usually produces 1-2 ears.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Rachel Garcia
Juicy fanatic
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener

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