Planting corn?

I'm looking for advice about growing corn. I'd like to plant some in my backyard, but I have a lot of questions. Does corn need a lot of sun? What type of soil is good for growing corn? Does it require a lot of water? Also, when is the best time to plant? Spring or fall?
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  40 answers
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 19, 2013
    I'm assuming your wanting to plant sweet corn to eat. Let me suggest this site for great information that will give you a good idea on the how to for growing corn.

  • Aron Garfinkel Aron Garfinkel on May 19, 2013
    Great. Thanks for your help.

  • Karen Pothier Karen Pothier on May 19, 2013
    Aaron, I try to plant my corn in the spring so I will have a summer crop. I also like using the almanac (as suggested above) to get ideas and times for planting. My garden this year is planted so that the veggies get roughly around four to six hours of sunlight, depending on the weather and clouds. Good luck with your corn! My favourite to grow is sweet yellow, like the picture up there. :)

  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 19, 2013
    Sweet corn definitely needs a lot of light, Aron, and you will need to be able to supply irrigation when it doesn't rain. For a complete guide to planting, along with recommended varieties for Georgia, see this from the University of Georgia:

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 19, 2013
    You also need to keep in mind that corn is a wind pollinated plant. Planting multiple rows in a "block" type configuration will produce better yield than a long single row. The "silk" of corn is actually the pollen tube that allow the pollen to fertilize the "seed" which are the kernels we eat. I remember ages ago a neighbor that planted a single row of corn. Only a hand full of the plant produced proper ears of corn. this was a classic case of poor pollination. When I lived in Michigan corn was planting in late spring. and early summer for multiple harvests. My grandfather would always use the ensure a proper harvest. Knee high by the fourth of July. In most cases his corn was shoulder high by then.

  • Judy Judy on May 19, 2013
    I have a friend who grows the most beautiful corn. Her secret? Lots of chicken manure from her chicken coop worked into the soil.

  • Katherine Rusler-Davis Katherine Rusler-Davis on May 19, 2013
    Just make sure that your seeds are heirloom seeds from a reputable company or you will end up with GMOs and that is way not good. I found some at walmart.

  • Sherrie Sherrie on May 19, 2013
    I know if you don't plant them the depth they call for everyone of them will blow down. I learned this the hard way. : )

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 20, 2013
    Natural fertilizer is great...but be careful. "Organic" is a buzz word, but is a concept most people know nothing about how to go about using. Having been raised in the country, I know you have to know that "raw manure" can be dangerous. Research how to cure manure in the sun before using it in a garden. Be careful...a lot of things that are "natural" will kill you! Till your soil, make your rows and use a hoe handle to poke holes to drop the seed in. In my other life as a kid, my family over the years planted acres and acres of corn and all sorts of veggies. Mom's "garden" grew larger as her children grew larger...but boy, did we eat some good stuff!

  • ScattyLady ScattyLady on May 20, 2013
    We grew Sweetcorn in UK planting it in a block of rows 3 X 3 and produced a fair yield considering our weather, though in those days I am sure we had better summers. might just be imagination, THough I do know it was rarely as windy as now. Our children really enjoyed eating it. Guessing/knowing Georgia a little as have family there it is a LOT hotter good luck and enjoy your crop.

  • Aron Garfinkel Aron Garfinkel on May 20, 2013
    What are GMOs? (Katherine Rusler-Davis)

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 20, 2013
    GMO's are genetically modified organisms. Monsanto has developed seed which is wrapped in a chemical insecticide that is cousin to Agent Orange. They claim this disperses as the plants grow, however, independent research indicates that's not what happens. The plants and crops absorb the poison. It can cause cancer, and genetic defects in lab rats and mice. Europe, Asia and Africa have told Monsanto to take their junk and get out. The US is the only place left that has not gotten this under control. All the fuss about GMO labeling is one way for the general populace to know what is in their food. There are already GMO food products in our food chain, compliments of Monsanto and the USDA without so much as a by your leave. Evidently Monsanto owns them. Please research this subject and educate yourself on this subject.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 20, 2013
    A lot of the seed stock form many other crops are tainted as well. In addition to insecticide the far greater of them are altered to be resistant to many herbicides. The logic here is that since the "target crop" is resistant to a specific herbicide...the use of that herbicide will kill everything else...leaving the target crop behind. This is a double edge sword as the GMO crop in the first place and the use of the herbicide which gets in to the food crop as well. The seed stock on most of these crops will lose some of its "engineered" bad side through a few generations of growth, but the farmers are not allowed to retain a portion of the harvest to use as seed crop for the next season ( as countless generations of farmers have done through out history)...the farmers are locked into a contract with monsanto and the other big seed producers to buy fresh seed stock from them.

  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 20, 2013
    I grow and have been growing (seed saving as well), Heirlooms, for over 20 years. Here is a great site for obtaining NON GMO Corn and anything else you may want. I've been buying from them for years and they're fab!

  • Lynn Lynn on May 20, 2013
    How about using the Indian method of Three Sisters? Corn, Beans (grow up the corn) and Squash (large leaves shade the ground for cooler roots?

  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 20, 2013
    One thing I forgot to mention. If you are close to anyone else growing corn? Find out if it's GMO. You don't want yours 'tainted' with their poor choice.

  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 20, 2013
    @Jeanette S YES! Good point luv! Folks forget to 'cure' the manure and end up overheating and killing off their crops. xo

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 21, 2013
    Agree Sia, you should also be careful about using free manures anymore. Check with the "donor" to find out if they are using herbicides in their pasture. The animals ingest it along with the grasses and it stays in the manure. No compost pile is hot enough to kill it out. We have gone almost exclusively to "green" manure crops and use worm castings because of this problem. Love Baker's Creek, btw. I was able to buy Non-GMO sugar beets from them. DH wanted to experiment, but it was quite literally the only nursery in the country where I could find that seed. sigh I too save heirloom seed, trade with others that our like minded about this issue. As long as we can do that we can keep better control of our food sources.

  • I planted corn last year using the Square Foot method. Planted half a 4x4 plot and two weeks later planted the other half. The corn grew great. The ears were a good size and all was well....until I went away for the weekend. When I got back from my trip the squirrels had decimated my corn. All the ears were gone and most of the stalks were broken. Moral of the story....If you have a small plot and squirrels, make sure you to screen out the rodents.

  • Evelyn McMullen Evelyn McMullen on May 22, 2013
    I'd be extra careful to not get any Monsanto GE seeds to start with!

  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 22, 2013
    @Catherine Smith Yep good point about the tainted manure, I always forget to mention that! xo

  • Judy Judy on May 22, 2013
    Please don't confuse GMO with hybrid seeds. The corn seed in the little packets for home gardens are mostly hybrid varieties which simply means they have been cross pollinated with other varieties to selectively breed them for certain desirable qualities such as stalk height, sweetness, kernel tenderness, yield etc. I like the super sweet varieties such as Polka Dot & super sweet Jubilee. Here's a handy dandy list of corn varieties: GMO varieties, on the other hand, are sold in bulk to farmers who grow crops for retail sale of the produce. A lot of the corn, canned, frozen & on the cob that you buy in the grocery store is GMO. I've read that since the seeds are patented, farmers have to sign a document promising not to save seed from the GMO crops they grow so that Monsanto can retain control of their lucrative product. I'm sure Monsanto would strenuously object to seed companies growing & selling their patented seeds. If you are in any doubt buy seed only from companies who have taken the safe seed pledge.

  • Aron Garfinkel Aron Garfinkel on May 23, 2013
    Thanks everyone for all your help. I'm really a novice at gardening, and I still have a lot of questions about which soil is best for growing corn. Also, I saw post where @Heather built a SFG (Square Foot Garden) and planted a whole variety of herbs and vegetables, as well as corn. I'm wondering if that might be the best way to go.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 23, 2013
    Aron, SFG works great, but don't be afraid to try other methods. The real key is the quality of your soil. That's were compost can make a huge difference in your production. Since we have been using only use organic methods in our veggie garden for over 30 years, I can tell you even this VA red clay has had to give in. LOL It takes time to build the soil, but by continually adding organic materials to your gardening area, you will continue to have good results. :)

  • Lynn Lynn on May 23, 2013
    Yes to organic and building the soil! Even this Texas gumbo had to succumb! ha Minimal tilling helps the micro-nutrients stay more abundant. Tilling disturbs the whole milieu of critters from doing their thing!

  • Judy Judy on May 23, 2013
    Aron, does your area have a Master Gardener's Club? If so your local extension office can give you contact info. Where I live they will come out, test your soil & give you invaluable advice. Well worth a couple of phone calls.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 24, 2013
    Most extension offices provide a soil testing kit with directions on how to use it properly. Then for a nominal fee you send it into your state lab for analysis. They'll send you back the results which will give you a better idea of what additional amendments you need to add to your soil. Here in VA the test is $10. Cheap insurance to make sure you got the right combo for good soil and great production. And Master Gardener's are always happy to answer gardening questions, here, MG's man the extension office phones to help gardeners, if it's something we can't answer or figure out, it get's bumped up to the extension agent. :)

  • Katherine Rusler-Davis Katherine Rusler-Davis on May 24, 2013
    There is an old fashioned method to protect your corn from varmints eating it. Take an old stocking and put it over the ear then put a drop of essential oil on the end. it will keep the coons and other critters from getting it before you can. They always seem to know before we do when it is ripe.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on May 26, 2013
    That's a good one, Katherine. I'd forgotten it and it works. Yes, if we could just "train" the coons, think how much easier it would be to get ripe corn, LOL

  • Kristy B Kristy B on May 31, 2013
    Katherine, what type of essential oil do you put on the stocking?

  • Do you really need the sock or would just the oil work. I really don't have 40-50 extra socks to cover all the ears on the all the stalks.

  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jun 01, 2013
    You can also use paper bags held on with rubber bands, for a larger number of ears.

  • Garden Co Garden Co on Jul 08, 2013
    We used wrap them old burlap potato sacks.

  • Carole Carole on Jul 25, 2013
    I tried sowing corn and the wombats dug it all up - only got one green shoot and another critter ate that too! Protect from the critters as well as improve your soil with compost etc before you even think of planting would be my advice!

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 25, 2013
    Wombats....I got a double take out of that until I noticed your posting from OZ.

  • Carole Carole on Jul 26, 2013
    Yes, we are in the mountains surrounded by natural bush in Australia and we do get wombats in our garden. We never see them as they are nocturnal, but we do see wombat scat (pooh) in the garden which is distinctive in the way they place it up against something raised on the ground - such as a fallen log or branch. I don't know if that is some sort of territorial marking that they do, but we always know it is wombats! The also tend to dig and I believe that is what did for our corn!

  • Shaun Shaun on Aug 04, 2013
    Can't wait to try planting some corn myself. Hope it can survive in an extra warm climate!

  • Charlie's Construction Charlie's Construction on Aug 04, 2013
    Try building a fence to keep some of the critters out. That's what we did, worked nicely.

  • Joyce Joyce on Aug 04, 2013
    We used to have a real problem with deer, but since we built the fence, our garden has been safe from any damage.

  • Jay Jay on Aug 04, 2013
    still trying to build something to keep the rabbits and squirrels out of my vegetable garden so i know how you feel!