The Q&A Archives: Sweet Corn

Question: I grow nice crops of sweet corn every year but I never get two decent ears per stalk with varieties claiming to yield two ears per stalk(I use 12-12-12 & water as required and this gets me one nice ear)....ANY SUGGESTIONS??(I"M ALL EARS--HO-HO-HO)

Answer: One thing you might check is for insect damage to the roots or base of the stalk. Another consideration would be to have a complete soil analysis done to see if a nutrient problem might be involved. Your county Extension office can assist you with having your soil tested. The fact that your other veggies are doing great makes it unlikely that the soil the corn is growing in has a significant nutrient problem.

Sometimes I have had problems with cornstalks failing to reach a good size before tasseling. I've blamed it on choice of varieties and the weather conditions that year, as each year poses its own challenges.

Just for general information, corn needs a long season to mature so when you purchase seed, make sure you look for the days to maturity requirement of the variety. Corn also needs a light soil so the roots can penetrate easily, to draw up moisture and nutrients. If your soil is too dry, lacking in potassium, or is full of nematodes, the corn plants will suffer. Also, if you over-fertilize with nitrogen without balancing the other nutrients you might get leaf growth at the expense of ear formation.

Corn is wind-pollinated so be sure to plant your corn in blocks rather than in long single rows so the pollen can fall on the silks. You can try hand pollinating by collecting the pollen (shake the stalks and collect the yellow dust-like particles then dip the ends of the silks in the dust). Better luck next year!

p.s. Happy Holidays, Ho, Ho, Ho!

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