Corn Suckers - Knowledgebase Question

Ambler, PA
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Question by bart8
May 24, 2000
Is it advisable to pull off the side shoots/suckers that grow at the base of the corn stalk? I understand they steal nutrients from the main stalk.

Also, my first planting of corn did not germinate well, although we had warm weather. Do you recommend
coating seeds with fungicide?

Answer from NGA
May 24, 2000
There are two schools of thought on removing suckers. Some gardeners routinely remove them for the reasons you state. Others recognize that the suckers can become anchors for the plant, and leave them alone. Cutting the suckers off can injure the plant and become entry points for disease or insects. I'm from the school that teaches "leave them alone." You may decide to experiment by removing the suckers from some plants and leaving them on others, just to see the difference in plant size and health.

Corn seed germination rates vary and are dependent upon warm soils as well as warm air temperatures. Cold soils will cause seeds to rot. If you experienced poor germination, try planting a little later in the season. Birds can also be a problem--they seem to know when corn seed is planted and can follow after you, harvesting the seed for a tasty snack! Seedcorn maggot and wireworms can also reduce germination by munching on germinating seeds.

Rather than treating seed, consider planting a little later in the season when the soil is a bit warmer.

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