Best Time To Plant Corn: Planting Condition, Varieties & Others

Corn is a tender, warm-season annual and as mentioned earlier, corn needs to be planted as soon as possible because it requires a long growing period as well as warm weather before it can be harvested. Seeds should be planted outdoors about two weeks after the last frost of spring. But for farmers who live in areas with short growing seasons, it is advisable to choose a variety of corn that will be sure to mature well before the first frost fall.

In many countries, especially West African countries, sweet corn is a staple food that has great value to the individuals dwelling in those areas. It can be used for a variety of purposes which makes it loved by many because of its versatility. Sweet corn is an annual crop with yellow, white, or bi-colored ears.

Sweet corn is wind-pollinated, so it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single rows. Early, mid, and late-season varieties extend the harvest, but if the supposed harvest time is missed, and one decides to harvest then, the flavor of the corn will have been changed because the sugars have started converting to starch.

Environmental Requirement and Land Preparation for Planting Corn

Soil temperature also plays an important role in corn growing. Do well to ensure that the soil temperature is above 60°F (16°C) if you want to guarantee successful germination for your corn seeds and if you want the young seeds to grow and have roots in time. But what if the spring frost has passed and the temperatures haven’t risen? Well, in this case, planting could still be quite early because the soil isn’t warm enough. Lower temperatures kill off seed growth even before they begin to grow.

Since corn requires a long growing period to reach maturation and be harvested, planting earlier rather than later ensures a crop ready for harvest by the end of summer. Depending on the variety of corn planted, a total of 60 – 100 days free from frost is required for the corn to mature and then harvesting begins, this also depends on the amount of heat that was available during the growing season. Apart from that, it takes 20 days after the first silks grow on corn ears for the corn to be fully ready to pick. Therefore, it is important to note the days required for the maturation of corn mentioned above when calculating how late corn can be planted. Corn is grown best in atmospheric temperatures that range from 60° to 95°F.  Seed germination occurs in 10 to 14 days at 75°F, with the rate of seed germination reaching only about 75 percent. Corn seeds should be started indoors and transplanted 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost.

The period when frost begins in a particular planting zone is a great determining factor in determining how late corn can or should be planted since young and germinating corn seeds have a high vulnerability to frost. Plant your corn seeds in the spring season, after the first frost to ensure that your plants germinate in the time since mature plants have great immunity against fall frosts even tho the cold can still cause some certain forms of damage to them.

To determine the process needed in planting, it is better to go more traditional in looking up at the moon which is a method that has been used by farmers for many generations in different parts of the world. One might wonder what this involves? It simply involves waiting for the waxing moon, in other words, the first new moon of the season before, and then, you plant your corn during the period between the new moon and when the moon is full. This old trick was most likely used to ensure the last frosts had passed before planting and is much more preferable and reliable than checking planting dates online.

Just as the way young corn seedlings are sensitive to extremely cold temperatures, they are also very sensitive to extremely hot temperatures as well. Therefore, planting may be too late if the area has already gotten to the height of the heat of the summer season. This is because temperatures ranging from 85 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit will make moisture less available and this is most common in areas prone to drought and this causes several problems for growth. The solution could be simply to ensure that the young seedlings get plenty of water during the growing period.

Pollination may also be an issue when corn is planted late. This is because planting corn late and in extreme heat yields a reduction in corn pollen. And if grown in continuous heat, pollination may not be as expected which also leads to a reduced harvest. This results in smaller corn kernels, shorter ears of corn, and the taste found in the kernels would not be the same as it should be normally and could also be missing. Each silk on the corn ear needs to be fertilized by one pollen grain to produce a kernel of corn. Not enough pollen equals not enough kernels. The later you plant corn, the greater the chance the corn will not pollinate.

Your young corn plants will need attention and care right from the start. When deciding how late you can plant corn, take into consideration your busy schedule. A late start to the season is doable, but if you’re jetting off on vacation after planting, or have a busy weekday schedule that leaves your plants exposed to heat all day without appropriate watering, the young plants won’t thrive. Plant your corn seeds in soil that is not overly wet, and that is well-draining. Corn loves water, but will not grow if it gets too much moisture. Mulch can be used to retain water in drier areas. Water well and often in the heat of the season so that the seeds do not have a chance to dry out. 

How to Plant Corn: Pre-planting and Post-Planting Management

Corn plants are picky about their soil. Work in aged manure or compost the fall before planting and let it overwinter in the soil. The soil should be well-drained but must be able to hold some moisture. Corn tends to use a lot of water.

Soak your young corn seeds overnight before planting in the water at room temperature to help them get plumped up and contain enough moisture prior to planting which increases the chances of germination.  In colder areas, plastic ground covers can be used to warm up the soil before planting, with seeds planted through holes in the plastic. Plant corn seeds 1 and a half to 2 inches deep. Do not plant the seeds too deep; the soil may not be as warm when deeper than 2 inches, and the seed will not grow. Planting too shallowly is a problem as well because the roots will not develop as deeply as they should.

For those who live in colder areas, warming the ground with a black plastic cover and then boring holes into the plastic and plant the seeds through those holes in the plastic helps and is essential because corn planted in cold, wet soil is unlikely to germinate. Interestingly, it is possible to plant another set of corn seeds every 2 to 3 weeks after planting the first set of corn if you live in an area with a long planting season this will increase your harvest. Spread out your harvest season by adding a second set of crops a week or two after the first – the two sets of crops will grow together, allowing you multiple waves of harvests.

For sufficient pollination, plan your plot right. Instead of planting two long rows of corn, plant “blocks” of corn at least four rows deep. This ensures that the corn—which is pollinated by the wind—has a greater chance of producing viable ears. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest corn in your garden.

  • Seeds should be planted 1.5 to 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.
  • Row spacing should be about 30 to 36 inches apart.
  • Application of fertilizer is optional most especially if one is sure that the soil fertility is enough.
  • Ensure to water well at planting time.
  • Be careful not to damage the roots when weeding.
  • In dry conditions, be sure to keep corn well watered due to its shallow roots. Water at a rate of 5 gallons per sq. yard.

Varieties Of Sweet Corn

Understanding or learning about the different types of sweet corn available is essential in knowing which kind is best suited for each farmer’s planting zone and area in other to ensure that the planting time is followed to ensure a bountiful harvest. Here are a few of the varieties of sweet corn and the number of days required for them to mature.

(A). Early season, yellow corn:

1.Bodacious requires 75 days to reach maturation.

2. Earlivee requires 69 days.

3. Early Sunglow requires 63 days.

4. IlliniChief requires 75 days.

5. Sugar Buns requires 72 days.

6. Tuxedo requires 74 days.

(B). Midseason, yellow corn:

1. Golden Bantam requires 83 days

2. Golden Cross Bantam requires 90 days

(C). Late season, yellow corn:

1. Kandy Korn requires 89 days

(D). Early season, white corn:

1. Platinum Lady requires 85 days

2. Sugar Snow requires 68 days.

(E). Midseason, white corn:

1. Alpine requires 79 days

2.  Argent requires 82 days

3. Divinity requires 75 days

4. Pristine requires 79 days

(F). Late season, white corn:

1. How Sweet It Is requires 87 days

2. Silver Queen requires 94 days

3. Stowell’s Evergreen requires 100 days

(G). Early season, bi-colored corn:

1. Athos requires 67 days

2. Double Gem requires 75 days

3. Quickie requires 65 days

4. Skyline requires 73 days

5. Sugar and Gold requires 67 days

(H). Midseason, bi-colored corn:

1. Butter and Sugar requires 73 days

2. Clockwork requires 78 days

3.  Honey and Cream requires 78 days

(I). Late season, bi-colored corn:

1. Pilot requires 90 days

(J). Space-saving varieties:

1. Baby Corn requires 65 days

2. Golden Midget requires 65 days

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