Planting corn

Larry G. Field
Thursday, April 18, 2019
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Corn is perhaps the most varied crop. It is available in grain and silage varieties for agricultural purposes. It is available as decorative corn, popcorn, sweet corn, Chinese corn and others for the gardener. Sweet corn comes in numerous varieties of which I grow Double Delicious, Kandy Korn, Kandy King and Peaches and Cream. We produce fresh corn, frozen corn, “given away” corn and mixed veggies from our four 35 foot long rows spaced 6-8” in the row.

I normally plant as early in May as possible based on the recent weather and a warm seven day forecast. Corn is not cold tolerant. If a cold spell ruins my crop I replant as soon as the weather improves. I double plant, two seeds per planting site, at 6-8 inch spacing. Thin or transplant if both seeds emerge. Plant 3/4 inch depth.

Most seed companies will recommend larger spacing, some- times 15-24 inches. I compensate by spacing east to west rows five feet apart which provides sunlight and allows tilling between rows. I have made several observations and tests and find no reason for such excessive spacing. I am going to repeat this one final time. If you are inexperienced, you should do exactly as the seed/plant provider recommends. I do not want to continue using type space to repeat this same statement. This statement applies to every future discussion.

I spread compost throughout the garden, but I fertilize directly into the planting strips. I purchase fertilizer from the CENEX store on east Main Street of Laurel and sprinkle it in the planting site. I then till the row/planting site, thoroughly mixing the fertilizer and soil, and plant directly into the fertilized strip. I utilize high nitrogen fertilizer because most ocean deposits, as are Yellowstone valley soils, have plenty of the other plant needs. Simple soil test kits can be purchased and utilized. If not previously treated, you will probably find your soil low in nitrogen, high in pH (basic) and at acceptable levels in other food stuffs. If you apply granulated fertilizer to developed plants, be sure to hose it ALL off the foliage or it will burn the plant.

It is suggested that corn be planted in blocks for better pollina- tion. I have never noticed pollination deficiencies, but I do plant in blocks. When growing four varieties in 35 foot rows, I plant the first nine feet of all rows with one variety, then the next nine feet with another variety and so on.

Several varieties of pests will attack corn. The only one that I take steps to avoid is the raccoon. Raccoons stay clear of electric fences. I use three strands spaced 4, 8 and 12 inches off the ground. Don’t allow the wire to touch plants or ground. I have had no trouble with any pest while using an electric fence. I clearly mark the fence at all corners to avoid human contact and I unplug the fence during the day. A foraging family of raccoons will destroy a high percentage of a crop in one night if allowed. They will break down large numbers of ears, sample each and move on to another. I often wonder if the odor tells the raccoons when to attack, but they find the taste too immature so they continue break- ing down ears looking for a tastier one.

All vegetables have weather preferences and the performance of each will vary from year to year. On average my corn crops mature by Aug. 5-10.

Corn ages rapidly, losing quality with age. Use it expediently but if you have enough to do so, lengthen out the use of the last few ears to get an idea as to how long you will have quality corn and when it becomes too ripe for use. When too ripe, examine the appearance of the ear, silk and husk closely for future reference.

Fifty to 60 ears of corn will provide 20-30 pints of frozen corn. We process/freeze corn, mixed veggies and beans. Nearly all other veggies we use during the summer or “fresh stored”. The only fruit that we process/freeze is apple sauce and apple pies.

Consider saving corn stalks & decorative ears for Halloween & Thanksgiving. I normally deliver two pickup loads of fresh cut green stalks to the feed lot that provides manure for my use.


Do you go out to any of the Christmas to Remember events on the first Sunday of December in Laurel?

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