Seven Tips for Growing Sweet Corn

Author: Meera, May 8, 2013


Young super sweet corn in its third week of growth

Super sweet corn in its third week of growth



Nothing says “summer” like juicy ears of sweet corn. Corn (or maize, as it is called in much of the world) isn’t difficult to grow but following a few tips can ensure success in growing this amazing plant.


What would a summer backyard barbecue be without a platter piled high with corn on the cob? And what could be better than picking it fresh?


We planted corn last year and still had a few ears that the squirrels hadn’t found. When I discovered them a few weeks ago, I removed the dried husk and planted some of the seed. Amazingly, the seeds grew and are now over a foot tall.



If you want to grow corn, it is helpful to understand several points.



1. Corn seeds won’t germinate in soil colder than 50 degrees. So wait until the soil is warm to plant your seeds.


2. Wind is the pollinator for corn, so do not plant your seed corn in straight rows. Instead, plant the seeds in blocks. Corn is monoecious, meaning the male and female parts are on the same plant. Block planting enables better pollination.


3. Plant corn kernels (two or three seeds) 15 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart.


4. After planting the corn seeds, water well. Corn needs plenty of water and nutrient-rich soil high in nitrogen. Dig in some aged manure to help meet the corn’s nitrogen needs.


5. Fertilize plants when they have reach 12 to 15 inches in height.


6. Weed often, but take care not to damage the corn roots. Compost can help keep weeds at a minimum and also adds nitrogen to the soil.


7. To harvest corn, bend the ear downward and twist from the plant. Remove husk and silks before cooking or freezing.


A little known fact about sweet corn comes by way of horticultural specialist Jonathan R. Schultheis, University of North Carolina Extension, who notes that the first known variety of sweet corn, Papoon, was acquired from the Iroquois Indians in 1779. See,


Whether you call it sweet corn or maize or classify it as vegetable or grain–these terms won’t matter as much as the word, “delicious” when it comes time to serving your home-grown corn to family and friends.

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