Savage Farming

Saturday, May 27, 2006

How to : planting corn

Having seen a couple people drop by looking for gardening advice on corn (shame on them for not leaving their questions in the comments!) It is time for another addition of "Advice from the Savage Farmer"

Today's Subject: Corn.

We plant our corn in rows of alternating distance: 2 rows at 2 foot spacing and then 5 feet of space followed by another 2 rows at 2 foot spacing etc. This facilitates weed control and harvest. The home grower might want a standard spacing of 3-4 feet between each row. Seed in the row is spaced about 9-10 inches apart. This is a little sparse by some standards, certainly so by seed corn standards, but we find it helps produce a large ear with lots of sugar. Seed should be placed at a depth of about 1 inch depending on soil consistency. Heavy soils such as clays might require a shallower planting while sandy, loamy or pumicey soils might benefit from an extra 1/8-1/4 inch. Soil temperature is also an issue; cooler soil temps might require a decrease in planting depth while high temps which might dry out the soil to the seed depth would necessitate deeper planting. 1 and 1/2 inches should be about the max depth usable although I have had deeper plantings which still managed to make it to the surface (an accident involving my depth gauge caused that...) Soil temps below 60 degrees greatly reduce sprout.

On the subject of weeding: weed early and often. Use of a burner to remove tiny weed sprouts prior to corn emergence is very helpful.

Corn is a voracious nitrogen feeder. Use a full spectrum fertilizer early (16-16-16 or miracle grow is acceptable) and a later feeding of high nitrogen fertilizer such as Urea (if you must be all organic) or sulfate of ammonia (if you're intelligent and practical) just before the corn is knee high will lead to wonderful growth and large, sweet ears.

Good luck and good gardening.

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