How to grow sweet corn

- Mar 27, 2018 -


Planting


Sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is a warm-season crop that grows best at temperatures between 60 and 80 °F. The optimum soil temperature for seed germination is 60 to 95 °F. Sweet corn does not germinate well in cold soil; therefore, do not plant before the soil temperature at the 4-inch depth is at least 50 ºF. Wait to plant extra-sweet varieties until soil temperatures reach 65 °F. Planting this crop in wet soil in the early spring will promote seed rot.

Sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is a warm-season crop that grows best at temperatures between 60 and 80 °F.

Sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is a warm-season crop that grows best at temperatures between 60 and 80 °F.

Barbara H. Smith, ©2016 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Plant sweet corn in rows 3 feet apart with 10 inches between seed in the row. Early, small varieties can be planted 8 to 9 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart. Plant the seed about 1 inch deep.

Plant sweet corn in rows 3 feet apart with 10 inches between seed in the row.

Plant sweet corn in rows 3 feet apart with 10 inches between seed in the row.

Barbara H. Smith, ©2016 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Sweet corn can be grown on most soil types. This crop requires full sun for optimum productivity.

Plant extra-sweet and standard sweet corn varieties 400 yards apart or plant so that maturity dates are one month apart to avoid crossing.


Canned Golden Sweet corn.jpg

Planting Dates

Area Spring


Types of Cultivars


Two types of sweet corn have a higher sugar content and hold it longer after harvest than the standard sweet corn (su) varieties. The two types are supersweet hybrid (sh2) and sugar enhanced (se) sweet corn. The supersweet varieties have higher sugar content, slower rates of sugar to starch conversion and more tender kernels than standard sweet corn or sugar enhanced corn. Varieties with the sh2 gene require isolation from standard sweet corn or the sweetness will be reduced. Another disadvantage of this type is that the seed is slow to germinate in cold, wet soil in the spring. The standard and sugar enhanced sweet corn cultivars that have these genes do not require isolation and will germinate in cooler soils.

Recommended Cultivars


Yellow: Early Sunglow (Su), Illini Gold (Sh2), Merit (Su), Sugar Buns (Se)

White: Kandy Korn (Se), Silver King (Se), Silver Princess (Se), Silver Queen (Su),

Bicolor: Ambrosia (Se), Chubby Checkers (Se), Peaches and Cream(Se)

Fertilizer


It is best to base fertilizer applications on the results of a soil test. If a soil test is not taken, apply a premium quality 5-10-10 fertilizer at 30 pounds per 1,000 square feet before planting. Side-dress monthly during the growing season with calcium nitrate at 2 pounds per 100 feet of row. More frequent side-dressing or the addition of trace elements may be required if the garden is sandy or if leaching rains occur. For more information, see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing.

Watering


Water the garden to provide a uniform moisture supply to the crop. The garden should be watered in the morning so that the foliage is dry before dark. Water sufficiently to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Light sprinklings will encourage shallow rooting of the plants. The critical periods for water are during pollination and ear filling. This crop requires at least 1 inch of water (rainfall or irrigation) per week for normal development.


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