Growing Corn - Knowledgebase Question

new city, NY
Question by JORDELLE
January 26, 1998
I cannot seem to grow corn to a harvestable size--the plants seem to dry out. I plant about 3 rows every year. One year we had drought conditions, but even the other two years were the same--no corn. I get good sun, and enough shade and water. What am I doing wrong?


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Answer from NGA
January 26, 1998

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How does the foliage look? Is the corn tall (5-6' or more) by the end of the summer? Is the foliage a nice, dark green, or is it yellowish or streaked with purple. If the foliage is stunted or discolored, then you probably have a water or nutrient problem. Because corn grows so rapidly, it needs lots of water and fertility. Try giving it some compost tea or fish emulsion a month after planting and again when the tassels appear. That might help. Water is most crucial when tassels appear.

Also, have you had your soil tested? If your pH or nutrient levels in the soil are way off, that could contribute to the problem. You can contact your Cooperative Extension office (ph# 914-429-7085) for details on soil tests.

If the foliage looks fine--tall and green--but your ears are stunted, you may not be getting adequate pollination. Corn is wind pollinated, so it's best to plant it in blocks, rather than long rows. Can you change the configuration to 6 shorter rows? Usually the best ears willcome from the center of the patch, because the wind will have carried pollen in from all directions.

You mention "enough shade". Corn really needs full sun, so if yours is getting shade a good part of the day, that will stunt its growth.

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