Corn rows - tips?

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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So we're going to try growing some corn this year. We've never done this before, so I'm looking to avoid any mistakes any of you might ha e previously done.

One thing I have taken in:
Don't plant two different varieties within close (400') proximity unless you stagger their plantings so the blooming doesn't occur at the same time. Also, planting 4 or 5 rows of tall sunflowers between corn sections can help protect from cross pollination.

Future lessons:
  1. How far apart should I make rows? 36"? 42"?
  2. Do they like or not like any particular types of mulching?

I don't know what else to ask, just figured I'd shoot a "help ke not screw this up" post out there
 

Ridgerunner

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@seedcorn is our resident corn expert though others have some knowledge.

What kind of corn? Sweet, field, popcorn, or something else? How much? Do you know which variety? Are you going to harvest it by hand or by machine?

Corn needs to be planted fairly deep, 1-1/2" to 2" deep. It has to do with their three tiered root systems. Too deep and it won't germinate but too shallow and it's not as stable and probably less efficient in taking in nutrients. Corn also needs warm soil to germinate.

Corn needs to be planted somewhat thick for pollination. Short rows side by side are better than one long single row. It pollinates by the pollen falling from the tassel onto the silks. Sweet corn does not stay fresh and at its prime very long, it's kind of if it is ready it needs to be harvested. The longer between picking it and cooking it the more quality is lost. The sugar starts turning to starch. Field or popcorn is different.

I plant a fairly small amount of sweet corn for fresh eating and canning. I plant them in groups about two weeks apart so I have fresh corn for much of the summer. My last planting was 4/17 so I plan to get my next batch in the ground tomorrow at two weeks interval. I'm experimenting down here my first year with raised beds but in Arkansas I'd plant two rows 12" apart, skip 32" and plant two more 12" rows. If I planted 4 of these double 12" rows (total of 8 rows) for a length of 8' I'd get three fresh meals, 18 pints of canned corn, and some left over to freeze for use in soup. I did everything by hand, no tillers or anything.
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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@seedcorn is our resident corn expert though others have some knowledge.

What kind of corn? Sweet, field, popcorn, or something else? How much? Do you know which variety? Are you going to harvest it by hand or by machine?

Corn needs to be planted fairly deep, 1-1/2" to 2" deep. It has to do with their three tiered root systems. Too deep and it won't germinate but too shallow and it's not as stable and probably less efficient in taking in nutrients. Corn also needs warm soil to germinate.

Corn needs to be planted somewhat thick for pollination. Short rows side by side are better than one long single row. It pollinates by the pollen falling from the tassel onto the silks. Sweet corn does not stay fresh and at its prime very long, it's kind of if it is ready it needs to be harvested. The longer between picking it and cooking it the more quality is lost. The sugar starts turning to starch. Field or popcorn is different.

I plant a fairly small amount of sweet corn for fresh eating and canning. I plant them in groups about two weeks apart so I have fresh corn for much of the summer. My last planting was 4/17 so I plan to get my next batch in the ground tomorrow at two weeks interval. I'm experimenting down here my first year with raised beds but in Arkansas I'd plant two rows 12" apart, skip 32" and plant two more 12" rows. If I planted 4 of these double 12" rows (total of 8 rows) for a length of 8' I'd get three fresh meals, 18 pints of canned corn, and some left over to freeze for use in soup. I did everything by hand, no tillers or anything.
Types:
Fisher's Earliest
Stowell's Evergreen Sweet

Thanks for the response. Most of the advice I was finding was obviously for large farms, but this is just for our family :). As such, we will be planting what we can of those two varieties.

Is it worth it to try to germinate these in coir pellets or will that backfire splendidly?
 

seedcorn

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Agree with ridge. Plant 1.5” to 2” deep-1.5” is minimum. Consistency in planting depth is a key.
Corn loves Nitrogen, sulfur.
If planting same variety, extend planting to lengthen harvest window. I plant 4 times. I allow the first to get 2” tall before next rows planted.
Cross pollination is not an issue as long as they don’t pollinate at same time. Pollen can travel so being 400-500’ apart can still cause pollination issues. Sunflowers between is of very little protection. Really not a problem unless you want to save seed.
Row width is not a factor as much as population. Population varies depending upon water, fertilization, soil CEC’s, etc.
Give me specifics as to type of corn usage, soil type, general soil health, water available, can make more suggestions.
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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Agree with ridge. Plant 1.5” to 2” deep-1.5” is minimum. Consistency in planting depth is a key.
Corn loves Nitrogen, sulfur.
If planting same variety, extend planting to lengthen harvest window. I plant 4 times. I allow the first to get 2” tall before next rows planted.
Cross pollination is not an issue as long as they don’t pollinate at same time. Pollen can travel so being 400-500’ apart can still cause pollination issues. Sunflowers between is of very little protection. Really not a problem unless you want to save seed.
Row width is not a factor as much as population. Population varies depending upon water, fertilization, soil CEC’s, etc.
Give me specifics as to type of corn usage, soil type, general soil health, water available, can make more suggestions.
We just bought this place last June, so all I can tell you about the soil is it's a mix of clayish stuff and good black dirt from prairire grass. We also have chickens, so I'll be applying compost from chickens to all of our garden beds and the corn area in the future.

Water is from a well, and will be via sprinkler
 

seedcorn

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IF it were me.... 20” between rows. 8” between plants. Pre-germing will save you about 2-4 days-not much. And could cost you ear size. Side dress when plants are about shoulder high or before tassel comes out. 90% of water usage before end of pollination. Barren tips tells you that plant maximized water, nitrogen and space.
 

ducks4you

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Not great at corn, successful last year, but I would have been more successful if I had staggered the planting. When farmers actually ROTATED their crops, they would plant corn right after alfalfa bc alfalfa sets a large amount of nitrogen and corn is a HEAVY FEEDER plant. I would suggest digging a trench where you want your corn, mixing in last year's composted chicken manure with the soil, and then planting. You won't have to feed it at all if you do this.
 

SprigOfTheLivingDead

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IF it were me.... 20” between rows. 8” between plants. Pre-germing will save you about 2-4 days-not much. And could cost you ear size. Side dress when plants are about shoulder high or before tassel comes out. 90% of water usage before end of pollination. Barren tips tells you that plant maximized water, nitrogen and space.
Good points. I like close rows then the separation. I'll refrain from putting them to any soil for another week or two, when the soil temps get up a bit

Not great at corn, successful last year, but I would have been more successful if I had staggered the planting. When farmers actually ROTATED their crops, they would plant corn right after alfalfa bc alfalfa sets a large amount of nitrogen and corn is a HEAVY FEEDER plant. I would suggest digging a trench where you want your corn, mixing in last year's composted chicken manure with the soil, and then planting. You won't have to feed it at all if you do this.
Sadly since we just moved in we don't have any built up compost to use yet. Come next spring I'll be in a better spot with that. However, I do like your idea of trenching and laying compost.
 

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