The Q&A Archives: Corn Not Sprouting

Question: I bought & planted Burpee's Ruby Red corn. I planted the corn deeper than the instructions, about 2', 12'' apart'. The corn has sprouted & is now about 6". However, some of the plantings in the 5 rows did not come up & it is sparse in some areas. I compost my soil & I read where a lot of organizms in the soil can actually decompose the seeds. Also, we had a wet spring. Could these conditions have contributed to the sparse yield? I plan to replant Ruby Red in the sparse areas.

Answer: Adding ample organic matter to the soil is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Over time it feeds the soil and helps improve the structure of it so it can hold both air and water, both of which are important to plant roots. Poor germination, especially with corn, is usually due to a cold soil or an overly wet soil causing the seeds to rot before they germinate. Planting deeper than about an inch will also inhibit germination, so you have quite a bit running against you. To try to help the new seeding catch up to the original, you can pregerminate the seed in a damp paper towel wrapped in plastic wrap and set in a location out of direct sun (so it won't overheat); check daily and when the seeds germinate, gently plant them in the garden. You may have some pollination problems in a small plot without a full block, so you might want to think about hand pollinating the corn as well.

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