The Q&A Archives: Planting Corn

Question: What is the best variety of corn to plant late in the season in zone 6; lastest date to plant and still get a harvest; and suggestions on what varieties to plant to have corn all season until frost.

Answer: Gardeners in the Mid-Atlantic mountains can plant corn right up to the first of August, in the inland plains, til the third week of July, and around the coast, til the third week in June. The soil is warmer now than in the spring, so corn should get off to a quick start, but as the temperatures cool down and days shorten, the "days to maturity" stated on seed packets may not apply. Try early-maturing varieties such as Early Choice (66 days), Early Sunglow (63 days) and Breeder's Bicolor (73 days).

Since corn is wind pollinated, and cross-pollination can affect the flavor and tenderness of the kernels, it's best to separate different corn varieties by 400 feet, or so that they tassel two weeks apart (tassels are the male "blossoms" at the top of the stalk). An exception is sugary enhanced (se) varieties. They can cross-pollinate without causing undue changes to the kernels. SE varieties include Breeder's Bicolor, Breeder's Choice (73 days), Early Choice (66 days), Kandy Korn (89 days) and Silver Choice (75 days). You can plant varieties based on their days to maturity to get several successive harvests through the season.

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