Sweet corn is an annual with yellow, white, and bi-colored ears. A long, frost-free growing season is necessary after planting. Sweet corn is wind-pollinated, so it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single rows. Early, mid, and late-season varieties extend the harvest. If you miss the optimal harvest time, corn will go downhill fast as sugars convert to starch.
- Corn is picky about its soil. Work in aged manure or compost the fall before planting and let over winter in the soil.
- Starting seeds indoors is not recommended.
- Plant seeds outdoors two weeks after the last spring frost date.
- Make sure soil temperature is above 60 degrees for successful germination. (Up to 65 for super sweet varieties.) In colder zones, the ground can be warmed by a black plastic cover if necessary. Plant seeds through holes.
- Plant seeds 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Space rows 30 to 36 inches apart.
- For sufficient pollination, plan your plot right. Don’t plant two long rows, rather, plant corn blocks of at least four rows.
- You may choose to fertilize at planting time, corn is meant to grow rapidly. If you are confident that the soil is adequate, this can be skipped.
- Water well at planting time.
- When your plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them so they are 8 to 12 inches apart.
- Be careful not to damage the roots when weeding.
- Soil must be well drained and able to keep consistent moisture.
- In dry conditions, be sure to keep corn well watered due to its shallow roots. Water at a rate of 5 gallons per sq yard. Mulch helps reduce evaporation.
- Harvest when tassels begin to turn brown and cobs start to swell. Kernels should be full and milky.
- Pull ears downward and twist to take off stalk.
- Sweet corn varieties lose their sweetness soon after harvesting.
- Prepare for eating or preserving immediately after picking.
- Sweet corn freezes well, especially if removed from ears before freezing.
There are three types of sweet corn: Normal, sugar enhanced and super sweet. Each one contains a different level of sucrose, changing the flavor and texture of the corn. Sweeter varieties will stay sweeter for longer after harvest.
- ‘Iochief’ Midseason normal-sugar variety. Yellow.
- ‘Silver Queen’ normal sugar-variety. Resistant to some bacterial diseases. White.
- ‘Challenger Crisp n Sweet’ supersweet variety, resistant to some diseases, high yield. Yellow.
- ‘Pristine’ sugar enhanced variety, good taste. White.
Wit & Wisdom
- Baby corn is produced from regular corn plants that are harvested early, while the ears are immature. Regular sweet corn, sugar-enhanced sweet corn, and supersweet corn varieties can be used, along with a few varieties that are specific for baby corn.
- If your corn shucks harder than usual, prepare for a cold winter.
- Corn is great for eating but also has so many other uses including medicinal. Learn more about corn for natural health.
If too much hot pepper or spice has been added to a soup or stew, adding a can of sweet corn can help.