Corn is one of the most versatile and best-loved veggies you can grow. It's been cultivated for thousands of years, increasing in popularity over time, as its attributes have become more and more obvious. Not only is it delicious in a wide variety of dishes as well as fresh from the stalk, but its uses go well beyond the culinary world. From Corn-on-the-cob and popcorn to syrups and cereals and an abundance of other products (edible and not!), this tasty vegetable is truly remarkable!
Choosing a Variety
When choosing what type of Corn to grow, you'll be able to pick from white, yellow, and bicolor varieties as well as consider a number of other traits that affect taste and tenderness. Here's a list of different hybrid varieties and their main characteristics:
Regular Sweet Hybrids -- Traditional, old-fashioned Corn flavor, delicious without an emphasis on sweetness. High yielding.
Sugar Enhanced Varieties -- Sweeter than regular strains, and with a sweetness that lasts longer after the Corn has been picked. A creamy, tender texture and no planting isolation needed from other Sweet Corn.
Super Sweet Varieties -- Bred for twice the sweetness of regular Corn. Will hold their tenderness and sweetness up to two weeks. They must be planted in totally warm soil and kept isolated from other types by 200 feet or 14 days planting time.
New Triple Sweet Varieties -- Wonderfully sweet, but they were bred to add more original Corn taste to the sweetness, improve crunchy texture, and hold their flavor and sweetness even longer. Requires no isolation from other Sweet Corns.
When to Start
Corn is best sown outdoors in situ after all danger of frost has past in spring. Sow in warm soil -- optimum temperature is at least 60 degrees F. Sweet Corn can be started indoors 2 weeks before the last frost at a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F, but direct sowing is recommended.
How to Start
If you want a continuous crop, sow every two weeks until early spring. Sow at a depth of 4 times the size of the seed in rows that are 24 to 36 inches apart. Plant in full sun in a rich, moist, well-drained soil. Once the seedlings appear, thin them to 3 to 12 inches apart. If you have started them inside and are transplanting them, do so when they have at least two sets of true leaves and allow them the same amount of space as previously mentioned. Expect germination in 7 to 10 days.
Cross-pollination can occur between different varieties of Corn, affecting taste, color, and other qualities. To prevent this, isolate each type by at least 700 feet, or allow at least 14 days between times of maturity.
Do not plant sooner than 10 days to 2 weeks after the date of the last killing frost. If you plant too early, your seedlings may die or their growth can be delayed.
Since Corn is wind pollinated, it's better to plant 4 or more short, side-by-side rows than 1 or 2 long rows. This will help pollination and ear development.
Pests and Problems to Watch For