The Pro Farmer

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Growing Corn: Tips for Choosing the Right Variety and Achieving Healthy Growth

Corn is a popular crop grown for both human and animal consumption.

It is a warm-weather crop that requires well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight to grow.

Here are the steps to follow when growing corn:

Corn is a versatile crop that comes in many varieties, each with its own unique characteristics and requirements.

Choosing the right variety of corn depends on a variety of factors, including the climate in your area, the length of your growing season, and your intended use for the corn.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right variety of corn:


Some corn varieties are better suited for cooler climates, while others thrive in warmer weather.

If you live in a region with a shorter growing season, you may want to choose a variety that matures quickly.

On the other hand, if you live in a region with a longer growing season, you may have more flexibility in the types of corn you can grow.

Intended use:

Different varieties of corn are better suited for different purposes.

For example, some varieties are ideal for making popcorn, while others are better suited for use in cornmeal or for fresh consumption.

Be sure to choose a variety that is well-suited to your intended use.

Examples of corn varieties that are well-suited for different climates:

Cooler climates:

Varieties that are well-suited for cooler climates include ‘Golden Bantam,’ ‘Trucker’s Favorite,’ and ‘Country Gentleman.’

These varieties have a shorter growing season and can handle cooler temperatures, making them a good choice for regions with a shorter growing season.

Warmer climates:

Varieties that do well in warmer climates include ‘Jubilee,’ ‘Stowell’s Evergreen,’ and ‘Silver Queen.’

These varieties have a longer growing season and can tolerate heat and drought, making them a good choice for regions with hot summers.

Versatile varieties:

Some varieties of corn, such as ‘Sweet Corn’ and ‘Super Sweet,’ are adaptable to a range of climates and growing conditions, making them a good choice for many different regions.

Prepare the soil:

Corn prefers well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Before planting, prepare the soil by tilling it to a depth of 8-10 inches and adding organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure.

This will help to improve the soil structure and fertility.

Plant the corn:

Corn can be planted from seed or as transplants.

Plant the seeds about 1-2 inches deep and 6-12 inches apart in rows that are spaced about 2-3 feet apart. If you are planting transplants, plant them at the same depth they were in their original container.

Water the corn:

Corn requires consistent moisture to grow well.

Water the plants regularly, especially during the first few weeks after planting when the roots are establishing.

During hot weather, corn may require up to 1 inch of water per week.

Corn is a heavy feeder, meaning that it requires a lot of nutrients to grow properly.

A balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 16-16-8 formula, can help to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

The three numbers on a fertilizer label represent the percentages of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in the fertilizer, in that order.

When planting corn, it is recommended to apply a starter fertilizer that is high in phosphorus to help the young plants develop strong roots.

This can be applied in a band 2 inches to the side and 2 inches below the seed.

The amount of fertilizer needed will depend on the soil’s nutrient levels, so it’s a good idea to get a soil test done before planting to determine the right amount of fertilizer to use.

As the corn grows, it will require additional fertilizer to continue growing properly.

When the plants are about knee-high, a side-dressing of nitrogen can be applied by spreading the fertilizer in a band on both sides of the row.

The amount of nitrogen required will depend on the size of the plants and the soil’s nutrient levels, so it’s important to follow the recommendations based on your soil test.

It’s important not to over-fertilize corn, as this can lead to environmental problems such as runoff and pollution.

It can also lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of yield.

Therefore, it’s essential to apply the right amount of fertilizer, based on your soil’s nutrient levels and the stage of growth of the corn.

Control weeds:

Corn is a tall crop that can shade out weeds, but it is important to keep the area around the plants weed-free during the early stages of growth.

Mulching can help to suppress weeds and conserve moisture.

Watch for pests and diseases:

Corn is susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, including corn borers, earworms, and rust.

Keep an eye on the plants and take action if you see signs of damage or disease.

Corn Borers:

Corn borers are the larvae of moths that tunnel into the stalks and ears of corn.

They can cause significant damage to the plants, leading to stunted growth, wilting, and reduced yield. To manage corn borers, you can use insecticides or biological controls such as releasing parasitic wasps that attack the larvae.


Earworms are the larvae of a moth that feed on the silk and kernels of corn ears.

They can cause damage to the ears and reduce yield.

To manage earworms, you can use insecticides or biological controls such as releasing parasitic wasps that attack the larvae.


Rust is a fungal disease that can affect corn plants, causing yellow or orange pustules on the leaves and stalks.

It can reduce yield and quality.

To manage rust, you can use fungicides or choose resistant varieties.


Smut is a fungal disease that can cause large, swollen galls to form on the ears of corn.

It can reduce yield and quality.

To manage smut, you can use fungicides or choose resistant varieties.


Weeds can compete with corn plants for water, nutrients, and sunlight, reducing yield.

To manage weeds, you can use herbicides or hand-weeding.

Mulching can also help to suppress weeds and conserve moisture.

Triazole fungicides:

Triazole fungicides such as tebuconazole, propiconazole, and myclobutanil are effective against a wide range of fungal diseases in corn, including rust and smut.

Strobilurin fungicides:

Strobilurin fungicides such as azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, and trifloxystrobin are also effective against rust and other fungal diseases in corn.

Copper-based fungicides:

Copper-based fungicides such as copper hydroxide and copper sulfate can be used to control smut in corn.

Synthetic pyrethroids:

Synthetic pyrethroids such as cypermethrin and deltamethrin are effective against a wide range of insect pests, including corn borers and earworms.


Organophosphate insecticides such as chlorpyrifos and malathion can also be used to control corn borers and earworms.

Biological controls:

Biological controls, such as the release of parasitic wasps, can also be effective in controlling corn borers and earworms.

Harvest the corn:

Corn is ready to harvest when the ears are fully developed and the kernels are plump and juicy.

The silks should be brown and dry, and the kernels should be tightly packed.

To harvest, simply pull back the husk and twist the ear off the stalk.

The time from seeding to harvest for corn can vary depending on several factors, such as the corn variety, weather conditions, and agricultural practices.

However, on average, corn takes around 60 to 100 days from planting to harvest.

For example, sweet corn, which is a type of corn that is harvested when the kernels are in the milk stage, can take around 60 to 90 days to reach maturity after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions.

On the other hand, field corn, which is primarily grown for animal feed or processed products like cornmeal and ethanol, usually takes around 100 to 120 days to mature after planting.

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