The Q&A Archives: Corn stalk has suckers at base

Question: My sweet corn is growing well, but the stalks have many suckers growing up from the base. Should I remove these suckers to get better corn production? Alfred Walker Wilmington, DE

Answer: Leave the suckers alone, says Virginia Hildebrandt, sweet corn breeder at Stokes Seed Company in Buffalo, New York. Gardeners used to think the suckers robbed the developing corn plant of energy and reduced fruiting. Studies have shown, however, thatthis isn't true and that if you remove the suckers, you could be inviting disease problems on the corn plant, she explains. Although many old and new varieties of sweet corn sucker freely, breeders are trying to get rid of the trait so that cultivation and harvesting will be easier. If you want to grow sweet corn varieties that have little suckering, try Lancelot, a bicolor SE (sugar enhanced) sweet corn or Patton, a yellow SE variety, Hildebrandt suggests.

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