Planting, Growing and Harvesting Sweet Corn

One of the finest pleasures of living in a tropical country is being able to sink our teeth into a perfectly ripened ear of sweet corn any time we feel like it. Sweet corn is a heavy feeder, and it is wind-pollinated, so it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single rows. A frost-free growing season is necessary after planting. Corn plants are not like tomatoes, which bear over a long period of time. Instead, they form a one to two ears per stalk and that is it. Early, mid, and late-season varieties extend the harvest. Do not miss the harvesting time as corn will go downhill fast as sugars convert to starch.

Planting

Corn needs a spot with that gets full sun and has fertile soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. For best results, plant your corn in aged manure. Make sure the temperature of soil is 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep and 5 inches apart. For the rows, make sure it is about 35 inches apart. For sufficient pollination, plan your plot right. Don’t plant two long rows, rather, plant corn blocks of at least three rows. Corn in meant to grow rapidly, so you may choose to fertilize it at planting time. However, if you think the soil is adequate, it is unnecessary to fertilize. Make sure the crops are watered well at the right time.

Care

When the plants are 4 inches tall, remember to trim them so that they are 9 to 11 inches apart. When weeding, be careful to not damage the roots. The soil used to plant sweet corn should be well-drained at all times. Due to its shallow roots, corn needs to be well-watered during dry conditions, or else it will wilt.

Common Problems

  1. Pigeons: These pests tend to eat seedlings, buds, and the corn kernels. Scarecrows are just a temporary solution. Cover the plants with horticultural fleece to protect the plants in the long run.
  2. Mice: These rodents will eat sweet corn seeds when planted. Place mouse traps around the areas in which sweet corn seeds are sown.
  3. Slugs/ Snails: These feed on young seedlings. You will see their trail on the soil around your crop as well as on the leaves. Use beer traps or eggshell barriers to stop them.

Harvesting

You know it is time to harvest when tassels begin to turn brown and cobs start to swell. The sweet corn kernels should be full and milky. Pull ears downward and twist to take off stalk. Sweet corn varieties lose their sweetness soon after harvesting, so make sure to make full use of them as soon as possible by preparing them for eating or preserving.

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