Sweet Corn Planting Tips

Planting sweet corn provides families with fresh corn during the harvesting season. The corn could be frozen on or off the cob, and it can be canned once cut off the cob. Corn needs to be planted in the well-drained soil and should be fertilized as needed during the growing season.

Soil Preparation

The soil needs to be tilled and amended with compost during the fall. In the spring, retill the soil to 6 inches. The soil for later crops should be well-drained, deep and rich. For earlier crops, sandy loam is better, as long as the pH is correct (6.0 to 6.5) and it has plenty of nutrients, as sandy loam heats up faster than the heavier loam.

Fertilizing

During the spring, the soil should be tested for nutrients. Soil test kits are available at your local nursery or big box home and garden store. Pick a fertilizer that benefits the soil test results. If the soil is healthy and is not lacking in nutrients, choose a fertilizer with an analysis of 12-12-12. Apply 3 to 4 lbs. per 100 square feet. Late in the growing season, fertilize again, but use a fertilizer high in nitrogen.

Planting

Sweet corn needs a certain soil temperature to germinate--the soil temperature should not be lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit and not higher than 90 F. Plant the seed at least 10 days, but preferably 14 days after the last frost. Always use fresh seed each year, as old seed might not germinate, leaving you with a small crop or a crop with inferior ears. If you do get a poor crop, remove the entire crop and replant with fresh seed. Seed should be planted about 1 inch deep in heavy soil, and about 2 inches deep in sandy soil. Though corn can be planted in rows, it is best to plant it in hills--plant five to six seeds in each hill. Once the seedlings come up, thin the seedlings to the three best seedlings per hill. Build the hills about 3 feet apart. The hills help with keeping disease away from the corn and help with pollination of the corn (corn is pollinated by the wind). If you plant in rows, plant more short rows, rather than long rows, to ensure the best pollination.

Keywords: sweet corn, corn hills, pollination of corn

About this Author

Cayden Conor is a family law paralegal who writes on various subjects including dogs, cockatoos and cooking. She has over 15 years of experience as a paralegal, and has been writing professionally for three years. Conor has a paralegal degree and majored in criminology, computer science (programming emphasis) and education.