Originated from the American continent, corn is one of the most widely consumed food crops for human and livestock. For that reason, planting corn is considered essential in many parts of the world. Although it is not necessarily challenging, several points are still needed to consider when it comes to growing corn, including how the preparation should be conducted, when the right time to germinate, and how to grow corn effectively.
Table of Contents
1. Getting to know: Is corn a vegetable?
Because it is mainly harvested for human consumption and used as an ingredient in several types of dish, it is assumed that corns—especially sweet corns—belong to the vegetable group. However, corn is actually more than that; it is also consumed as grains.
Corn is a vegetable when it is harvested at the initial phase of ripening or commonly known as the milky stage. At this stage, corn is in the form of yellow morsels with milky fluid inside, a delectable ingredient for soup and salad.
Meanwhile, corn is considered a grain if the seeds are harvested at the final phase when they are ripe and have dried perfectly. In this state, corn is associated with the term ‘cereal grains’ or ‘cereal grass,’ following the taxonomy system that classifies corn plant under the grass family.Therefore, it is a fair thing to say that corn is a vegetable grain, as it fulfills the characteristics of both food types.
2. How many ears of corn on a stalk?
Corn has tall, green stalk whose form is likely to have grass features. Each talk has flowering tassels on the top and contains 1-2 ears of corn on its side part. The tassels are actually the male reproductive part of corn (stamen), while the female (pistil) forms thickened spikes along the stem. Later, after the pollination process in the growing state, the spikes will turn into the edible ears of corn.
3. Preparing to plant corn: When is corn in season?
Corn is an annual plant which grows in the warm season, especially at the beginning of the spring. Knowing corn season is important to determine when the planting process should be started. In addition to the season, it is not less important to prepare the soil or planting area.
In the preparation stage, add aged compost or manure to the area where you will plant the seeds. This will strengthen the soil when the planting season comes.
If you want to get the harvest season in advance, the preparation of planting corn can be conducted since the fall. Prepare the planting area and fertilize the soil in this season, then let it still throughout the winter. This stage can be done directly in the garden or an indoor area.
Although both options can work, the latter is less recommended because it will take more time to transplant the soil into the garden before you start planting.
4. When, where, and how to plant corn
Due to its seasonal type, corn is best planted in a warm situation when the soil reaches the temperature of 16°C (60°F) and the ideal heat level of the air falls between 16-36°C (around 60-95°F). Two or three weeks following the first day of spring will be the perfect time to start growing corn.
Corn can be planted in the common ground of the garden. If you only have small spaces for planting corn, it can also grow in the raised bed, a small backyard, or even a container. There are not many differences regarding planting procedure in the various media.
However, when growing corn in containers, the corn yield you get will be less than any other planting area since one medium-size container can only hold 5-6 seeds.
Once the planting preparation is completed, and you have chosen the right time and place to plant corn, the next thing to do is taking real action during the planting process. To begin with, the corn seeds must be sown to the depth of 2.5-4 centimeters (1-1.5 inches).
Instead of forming a long row, it is best for you to put the seeds in the form of a block by planting them side by side. Also, remember to create a space around 5-10 centimeters (2-4 inches) from one seed to another. If space is too close, corn will need more water and fertilizer to grow.
5. When to harvest corn
Now that you know the main procedures on how to grow corn, the right way to harvest what you plant is another thing worth-knowing. During the growing season, corn can be harvested between 60 to 100 days, or in other words, 20 days after the silks on each ear start to appear.
The harvest period may vary in different planting area as it depends on the types of corn you plant as well as the air and soil temperature.
Corn harvest begins when the ears turn green with slightly darker shade while the silks on the tip of the ears turn brown.To pick the corn, grab the ear and bring it down sharply with a twist to separate it from the stalk. Prepare cold water in a bucket while harvesting.
As soon as the ear is plucked, plunge it into the water to keep the sweetness. For a side note, it is best to harvest corn in the morning because, at that time of the day, the corns are in the freshest state.
6. Taking care of the corn
There are several things you need to know regarding corn plant care:
- On a regular basis, remove wild plants that may grow in the cornfield to preserve water and nutrients for the corn.
- Avoid planting corn seed too close to each other since it will result in imperfect pollination and potassium deficiency.
- Deep cultivation must be avoided as well for the fact that corn has shallow root.
- Cover the ears when they appear to protect your corn plant from birds.
Corn is one of the easiest plants to grow. Besides, it only requires little intensive care throughout the growing period. With the information of how to grow corn, from preparing to harvesting, you can start planning to grow corn on your planting area and take advantage of this delicious and nutritious vegetable grain.