The adventure involved with planting corn is one you would definitely love to embark on as a home gardener. Corn can be grown in any climatic condition because of its varying types.
However, corn is highly susceptible to frost and will not germinate properly in the cold weather. Therefore it is best to plant it two to three weeks after the last frost of spring.
Here are the different climatic conditions and when to grow corn in their regions.
Parts of the world that experience the tropical climatic condition usually plant corn during the warm time of the year. The tropical climate is characterized by a monthly temperature of about 18⁰C.
This gives the tropics an advantage of growing corn all year round except in December because the corn plant needs a temperature of between 15⁰C to 35⁰C to grow into a healthy plant.
The regions with temperate climatic conditions are often advised to plant corn after the risk of frost. Planting season for corn starts in September and ends in January for these regions.
If you are a home gardener in this region hoping to have a bountiful harvest of corn, then wait to plant your corn from September all through October, November, December and January.
These months are the best months to plant corn in areas with temperate climate.
Achieving a successful planting season for the corn plant in dry climate is usually an uneasy venture. However, it can be done. All you need is to ensure that you have a good irrigation system and proceed with planting the seeds before the onset of the dry climate.
Sowing your seeds before the weather gets too harsh will ensure that the seed germinates before the dry weather conditions renders the seed unviable.
Therefore, check your and ensure to plant before the harsh conditions of the dry climate sets in or negatively affects your corn seeds.
The continental climate has its warmest times in July or August. Fortunately, the temperature during these months are about 22°C. This is the best time to cultivate corn in this region.
Planting corn in a cold soil inhibits it’s germination. Although, you could wait for the period when the temperature is warmer in your region to begin planting but the chances of corn survival including the cold-tolerant varieties are low.
Choosing Corn Seeds
Before you plant corn, you must have settled with the varieties and hybrids that best suits you. Making that choice can be quite tasking.
However, the following factors will help you to narrow down these hybrids and make the best choice of corn seeds to plant.
Factors to consider while choosing corn seeds:
- Climatic conditions
- Soil Temperature
- Yield and Yield consistency
- Genetic Diversity
- Growing Degree Days
- Disease Tolerance
Choosing corn seeds with high germination rate must be your priority when choosing corn seeds. High quality corn seeds usually have germination rate as high as 98% and above.
The quality of corn seeds partially depends on how healthy the parent plant is and how careful the seeds were picked, dried and sorted. Never go for corn seeds that were grown under bad climate.
Seeds that have undergone weather stress due to dry climate or too wet soil conditions do not give a good harvest.
The importance of choosing corn seeds that are best suited to your climatic conditions cannot be overemphasized.
Ensure to study your climatic conditions and check which varieties of corn survives best in that condition before making a choice of corn seeds to grow.
The climatic conditions might be right for that corn seed you have always wanted to grow but the soil conditions may not sit right with your seed. Remember the soil must not be too wet, too dry, and too hot.
Corn survives in warm conditions of temperature between 15⁰C to 35⁰C. Any temperature slightly above or below this range might damage your corn seed.
You can always check your soil temperature first with a soil thermometer in preparation for your choice of corn seeds to grow.
Yield and Yield Consistency
Ensuring you pick various hybrids for your farm is important but the most important factor to consider is the seed’s yield and how consistent this yield is.
Look for corn seeds with high yield, performance, and yield consistency year in and year out despite the location. Regardless of the planting and growing practices you use to ensure you have a high yield, if you didn’t choose corn varieties with consistent high yields, you will not have the best yield.
Check multiple data sources of seed shops or farm that you are buying from to see their corn yield rate over a certain period of time.
While choosing corn seeds for this planting season, ensure to go with a mix of varieties. Choosing a diverse mix of varieties will help in the reduction of the risks associated with the weakness of any variety.
Imagine choosing one variety of corn and finding out later that the variety you chose has certain weaknesses associated with it. You may end up having a bad yield that season.
But if you had gone for a mix of varieties, then you will manage the risks associated with any problems that an individual variety might bring.
Growing Degree Days
The Growing Degree Days (GDD) which is also known as maturation time is another important factor to put into consideration.
Choose corn seeds to suit a longer maturation time if you are growing your corn for silage but if you are growing for grain, you don’t have to choose seeds that have a long maturation time.
Here’s an exact way to measure the maturation time of your corn seeds:
Regardless of the accuracy of this measurement, your corn’s maturation can be slowed down by nutrient deficiency and unfavorable weather conditions such as drought, flood, too cold or too hot weather.
Growth can also be sped up by appropriate weather conditions throughout the growing season and optimum soil nutrition.
Desirable Nutrient Content
Most Corn varieties are low in the essential amino acids. These three essential amino acids are tryptophan, methionine and lysine.
If you are choosing corn seeds, ensure to choose seeds that have the desirable nutrients you wish to get from them for yourself and animals. Some corn seeds might have high concentration of these essential amino acids but have low yield and low germination rate while some others damage easily.
Therefore ensure to pick which seeds works best for you, nutrient-wise and otherwise.
Here are some special corn hybrid to be aware of include;
Open Pollinate Corn
One of the best hybrids containing a good balance of trace minerals.
High Sugar Corn
This is also known as sweet-stalk corn. It is good for silage but has low yield.
This variety makes better use of light when planted closely in long rows.
This corn contains high amount of amylopectin starch.
High Oil Corn
This variety is great for fattening hogs.
This corn variety is high in carbohydrates
This is also known as colored corn. This variety is high in minerals.
This has high amounts of Vitamin A.
Check how tolerant the varieties you are going for are to disease. Some corn varieties are susceptible to disease and hardly survives disease attacks.
Scrutinize the corn varieties and always go with improved corn species that are known for their high disease-tolerance.
How To Grow Corn Seeds
The corn plant is a wonderful vegetable to add to your garden not just for your animals but for your desired kitchen dishes.
Sweet corn adds a different taste to salads and tastes even better as stand-alone foods and so is a must have for culinary purposes.
Corn is easy to grow; all you need is the best growing strategy and viable seeds.
How To Plant Corn
Apart from ensuring that you plant your corn seeds during the right planting season for corn in your aura, there are steps to ensure the best corn yield.
Here is a step by step guide of how to plant corn:
Steps to plant corn seeds
- Choose a bed that is rich in organic matter and gets about 6 hours or more of sunlight and break up the soil to loosen about 8 inches of top soil. Ensure that the soil is well drained.
- Add fertilizer by digging it into the top 6 inches of already loosened soil.
- Plant corn seeds 1-2 inches deep giving a space of 12 inches apart for each seed in a row. Ensure the rows are 24 inches apart.
- Water the bed making sure that the top 6 inches of soil are moist. Then ensure to water as needed as they corn sprouts.
- Protect the corn sprouts which is seen within 7 to 14 days with a floating row cover to prevent pest problems.
- Once the corn plants are few inches tall and the corn stalks are strong enough cover the soil with about 2 inches layer of mulch.
- Water your growing corn plants 2 to 3 times weekly or when you notice that the top soil is drying out. Ensure that your corn gets about 1 inch of water every week and that you are watering the soil and not the leaves.
- Add extra fertilizer 6 inches from the plants and water the bed to ensure it soaks into the soil.
- Be vigilant and check your corn plants for pests and diseases.
- Ensure proper pollination by shaking the stalks lightly to disperse its pollen.
How To Water Corn
Your corn plant Needs about one inch of water every week especially when the corn starts producing tassels.
Overwatering your corn plant can cause its death. Therefore, water your corn until the soil is moist enough that if you place a finger an inch into the soil you can feel the moisture in the soil.
How long does it take to grow corn?
Growing corn takes 60-100 days before they get ready for harvest. The duration your corn plants take to reach harvest does not depend on whether or not you plant early.
However, this duration depends on knowing the right time to plant and how conducive the weather is for the corn.
You will know your corn is ready for harvest when the ears of corn turn dark green, the tassels turn brown, the corn kernels are plump, soft, and filled with a milky juice.
What is the best month to plant corn?
The best month to plant corn may differ because of the varying climatic conditions; however the best corn yields has been gotten with the planting dates ranging between April 5 and May 5.
In conclusion, it takes great care to grow corn as it is a fragile plant. However, if you have gone through this guide, then you are set for a bountiful harvest.