The Q&A Archives: Reasons for Premature Corn

Question: I planted golden bantam corn starts about 8 weeks ago, and they are starting to silk already; some are only 20 inches tall. Should I prune them? M. Santa Rosa, CA

Answer: I'm sorry to hear your corn isn't doing well. In 8 weeks time it should have grown much taller. Golden Bantam is relatively short for sweet corn (6'-7' tall), but since it only takes about 85 days to mature, it should have grown taller. It sounds like it's missing something essential, either in terms of nutrients or water. When plants set seed before they are fully grown, it's indicative of stress. In Santa Rosa, you are better off starting your seed right in the ground rather than trying to transplant seedlings. Corn is hard to transplant anyway, and only people who want to fit it in to their very short growing season need take the care necessary to grow seedling starts. Transplanting may be what caused your corn stress. It could alsobe that your soil is missing something. Corn is a heavy feeder, and requires quite a bit of water, too. My suggestion is that you have your soil tested to find out what is out of balance, and correct it according to the recommendations. Your extensionagent (ph#707/527-2621) can give you information about soil testing. Hope this helps!

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