I love planting corn as much as I enjoy eating it. I have eaten corn in almost every way possible-from roasted corn, cooked corn, and even buttered corn. So, when it is time to plant my corn, I do it with all my heart, knowing that I will be munching on sweet corn when it is time to harvest.
Planting corn is great, but knowing how to space them well is the issue. Many gardeners are discouraged from planting corn because it is said to need a lot of space (they do), that many people don’t have. However, be assured that at the end of this guide, you will know to plant corn in any garden size successfully.
How Far Apart to Space Corn
The right spacing for your corn depends on the variety of corn you plant. As a rule of thumb, if you are planting a short corn variety, they will need to be planted farther apart.
When planting seeds for tall corn, ensure that they are planted three and a half feet away from each other. The space between each plant should be about 18-25cm.
On the other hand, when planting a short corn variety, you can plant the seeds in rows 12-18 inches apart. The space that you leave between each plant should be about 20 cm. Sweet corn plants do not grow very tall. When the corns become seedlings (about 6 inches tall), you can thin the space to 12 inches.
When planting corn on a raised bed, the recommended spacing is two plants per square foot.
Just like when you grow peppers and tomatoes, you can also choose to plant your corn in a container. Your chosen container can be a clay pot, lined wooden crate, laundry basket, etc. Whatever container you choose, the important thing is to be sure that they have adequate drainage. A fully grown corn will be at least 12 inches wide and over 12 inches deep. When choosing a container, it is important to keep how big corn can grow in mind.
The corn seeds should be spaced at 4-6 inches in the container, and they should be planted about an inch deep into the soil. If you are using multiple pots of corn seeds, the containers should be kept 5-6 inches from each other.
How Does Pollination Affect Corn Spacing?
Unlike Zucchini, Strawberry, and Tomatoes, Corn, such as sweet corn, pollinate itself. So, to ensure that your corn pollinates and develops well, you should plant many short rows rather than one or two long rows. Remember that if your corn doesn’t pollinate well, it may result in poorly filled ears.
Also, different kinds of corn can pollinate each other, which may lead to contamination. So, when planting corn, ensure that they are isolated from each other. Your sweet corn should be isolated from popcorn, field corn, or ornamental corn. How can you adequately isolate different varieties of corn? The answer is simple. Different varieties of corn should be planted at least 250 feet away from each other.
Why Do I Need To Space My Corn?
Spacing is important whether you are panting corn or something else. Below are important reasons why you should space your corn.
- Great Yield
Are you a committed gardener? If you are, you should know how important spacing is to the harvest you will have after the growing season. If you assume that packing your seeds tightly will increase your yield, think again. Your corn plant will grow without competing with other plants for resources like sunlight, water, and fertilizer if you give it enough room to do so.
- Healthy Plants
If you space your corn plants properly, they will thank you. Good spacing is important because it will keep your corn healthy, limiting weed development and enhancing productivity.
When pests or plant diseases attack plants, the yield will be impacted. It is also important to know how to revive plants in the event that there is a disease outbreak.
If corn is planted too closely together, they will encroach on their neighbors and cross-pollinate. The plants’ foliage will dry out slowly after rain or irrigation due to the reduced airflow, and wet foliage is an invitation to disease.
Factors To Consider Before Planting a Corn
Yes, you know how to space your corn properly. But do you know that some other factors apart from spacing can hinder your corn harvest? Below are some factors you should consider before putting a single corn seed into the soil.
- Soil Temperature
The soil type and crop residue are things that can affect the temperature of the soil. Before planting your corn, ensure that you get different readings in multiple spots of the soil. This should be done in the mid-morning to get the best results. If the temperature of the soil is near 50 degrees, you can start your planting.
- Soil Conditions
When soils are damp, avoid planting. Generally speaking, soil in the tillage depth crumbles when squeezed, indicating that a field is ready for seedbed preparation. When soils are damp, pre-plant tillage might result in a cloddy seedbed that limits the contact between the seed and the soil.
For seeds to quickly and uniformly absorb moisture and for emergence to occur consistently, there must be great seed-to-soil contact. When soils are wet, tillage can also form a compacted layer below the depth of tillage, which can impede root growth. Additionally, under wet soil circumstances, seed furrows may open up after planting, resulting in inadequate seed-to-soil contact.
Just like any other plant, corn needs nutrients to grow well. The most important nutrient needed by corn is nitrogen, and corn also needs phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients that come in small quantities. Always keep an eye on your corn as they grow.
Since corns cannot talk, they will communicate with you by showing deficiency symptoms. If you see any signs of deficiency, then it means that one or more important nutrient is missing. Yellowing leaves is one way to foretell diseases issues in your vegetables.
- Planting Date and Rate
The best corn yields are typically attained when planting in late April or early May. If immature corn plants are not seriously harmed by a May freeze, planting in the middle of April can result in an equivalent yield in years where warm weather arrives earlier than usual.
The best planting rates are 34,000 to 36,000 seeds per acre. However, the rates are determined by the hybrid, soil productivity, and anticipated yield. Although an excessive planting rate can lower economic net return, it generally does not reduce corn yield.