sweet corn fresh from the garden is a favorite vegetable of many
people. In addition to its fine flavor, sweet corn is a source of
carbohydrates and food energy and contains some vitamin A (yellow
corn only), minerals and protein. Besides its popular use as corn-on-the-cob,
sweet corn can be used in scalloped dishes, succotash, relishes,
fritters, soups and chowders. Many, but not all, sweet corn cultivars
and hybrids are acceptable fro freezing. Types that have desirable
quality after freezing are indicated later in the cultivars and
the Northeast, the sweet corn season beings about July 1 and continues
until the first frost (late September or early October). Fresh sweet
corn is most plentiful, however, July 20 to September 15.
sweet corn ears have fresh, green husks and ears well filled with
bright-colored, plump and milky kernels. The ears should be free
of insect and disease damage.
and Soil Requirements:
corn, a warm weather crop, grows best when temperatures range from
60 to 80 degrees F and the soil is well supplied with moisture.
Adequate soil moisture is especially critical at silking time and
when kernels are forming. Water-logged or poorly drained soils are
to be avoided, as root decay and resulting poor plant growth may
result. Sweet corn plants will grow in a variety of soil types,
but growth is best in fertile, loamy, well drained soils of pH 5.8
to 6.5. Sweet corn plants grow best when exposed to full sunlight
throughout the day, so shady areas should be avoided.
and lime are best applied to the soil using the results of a soil
test as a guide. The fertilizer should be applied two to three inches
to the side of and slightly below the seed. Avoid contact of fertilizer
with the seed as germination may be reduced or seedlings injured.
Satisfactory fertilizer analyses for sweet corn are 12-12-12 and
6-24-24. Applications of 15 to 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet are
commonly made in growing a sweet corn crop in the home garden. A
side-dressing of one to two pounds of a fertilizer such as 8-16-16
or 12-12-12 per 100 feet of row when plants are 12 to 25 inches
tall is a desirable practice.
corn should be planted after the danger of frost is past. Plant
seeds one to two inches deep and nine to 12 inches apart in rows
30 to 36 inches or more apart as necessary to accommodate cultivators.
Use the deeper planting depth in dry soils, the shallower depth
when soil is moist. Four ounces of seed will plant a 100 ft. row.
It is suggested that several short rows be planted rather than one
long row so that pollination can occur more readily. A yield of
eight to eight and a half dozen ears may be expected per 100 ft.
of row. As the sweet corn crop requires considerable growing space,
the crop may not be as productive in the small garden as other vegetables
such as beans, carrots, beets or tomatoes.
best results, the crop should be kept free of weeds. Cultivation
should be shallow when the weeds are small to avoid damage to plant
root systems. During periods of insufficient rainfall, supplemental
watering is recommended. The plants require at least one inch of
water per week when temperatures are warm and growth is rapid. Mulches
may be used to conserve soil moisture. Research has shown that suckering
or the removal of basal side shoots from the plants is unnecessary.
Some cultivars and hybrids are more likely to develop suckers than
most common insect and disease problems of sweet corn are the corn
earworm, corn borer, sap beetle, bacterial wilt or Stewarts
disease, and smut.
loss from harvested sweet corn is rapid at high temperatures; the
crop should be cooled as quickly as possible after harvest. If the
fresh product is to be kept for any period of time after harvest,
it should be kept in a moist environment and at a temperature as
close to 32 degrees F as possible.
addition to the well-known cultivars and hybrids, some excellent
white-kernelled types are available. Hybrids with bi-colored ears
of both yellow and white kernels and extra-sweet types have become
more popular in recent years. In addition to differences in color
of kernels, corn cultivars and hybrids vary in the amount of time
required to mature a crop (from 60 to 90 days). By planting seeds
of early, mid-season and late-maturing cultivars on the same day,
the gardener can extend the sweet corn harvest season over a period
of several weeks. The harvest season can also be extended by planting
seeds of one cultivar or hybrid at 10 to 14 day internals to get
a succession of crops.
of the sweet corn cultivars and hybrids that grow well under Northeast
growing conditions are:
and Medium Early: Earliking, Spring Gold, Bravo, Sundance,
White and Yellow Kernels: Honey and Cream, Butter and Sugar,
Gleam and Gold, Sprite, Sweet Sue, Sweet Sal
*Suitable for freezing or canning.
other than these may grow well in the home garden, and the gardener
may want to try several different
kinds to determine which best fits their needs.
Adapted from James D. Utzinger, Ohio State University, 2001
are poisonous! Read and follow all safety precautions on labels.
Handle carefully and store in original containers out of reach
of children, pets or livestock. Dispose of empty containers
immediately, in a safe manner and place. Pesticides should never
be stored with foods or in areas where people eat.
When trade names are used for identification, no product endorsement
is implied, nor is discrimination intended against similar materials.
Be sure that the pesticide you intend to use is registered for
the state of use.
The user of this information assumes all risk for personal injury
or property damage.
information, call the URI CE Gardening and Food Safety Hotline
at 1-800-448-1011 or (401)874-2929 from outside Rhode Island;
Monday-Thursday between 9 am and 2 pm.
of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension provides equal program