Growing sweet corn in the backyard garden

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 09:33 AM.

Plant corn in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.  It is beneficial to plant near a water source for needed irrigation.

Plant seed approximately 1 to 1 ½ inch deep in rows 3 feet apart with 8 to 12 inches between each seed in the row.  A hand pushed mechanical planter can make seeding much easier for larger stands of corn.

A soil test through the local County Extension Office is always the best way to determine the lime and fertilizer needs.  If lime is required, it can be tilled into the ground during soil preparation but is most effective when applied 2 to 3 months prior to planting.

If a soil test is not done, a general guideline is to apply 3-4 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 linear row feet before planting.  Side dress two or three times during the growing season with ammonium sulfate (21-0-0-17) at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 feet of row space.  More frequent side dressing may be required on sandy soils or when excessive ran occurs.

Corn requires a minimum of 1 inch of water per week for normal development.  The most critical period for water is during pollination and during final ear filling.

Sweet corn matures in 60 to 100 day, depending on the varieties.  Sweet corn should be ready for harvest about 20 days after the appearance of the first silk stands, sweet corn is picked during the “milk stage” when the kernels are fully formed but not completely mature.

After picking, cook and eat corn that day or store it in cool temperatures, such as in a refrigerator, as soon as possible.  It can then be canned, frozen or eaten fresh within few days.  Keeping the corn cool is the key to better flavor as high temperatures will convert the sugar in the kernels to starch, giving it a bland taste.

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