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Tips on Growing Sweet Jersey Corn

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Tips on Growing Sweet Jersey Corn

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Take a sweet corn hybrid such as Silver Queen, bred for its slow sugar-to-starch conversion, and plant it in the fertile New Jersey clay and then watch it alchemically transform into a national phenomenon. If you're lucky enough to live in New Jersey, you can find sweet Jersey corn at local farmers markets starting in early July. Or you can grow it yourself. Just follow the same methods you would for sweet corn anywhere.

Soil Preparation

Pick an area that will receive plenty of direct sunlight. When the soil there is dry enough not to stick to your garden tools, work the top 8 to 10 inches of it, removing all weeds, rocks and trash.

Using Fertilizer

Fertilize lightly before planting sweet corn. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension recommends using 2 to 3 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden area. Spread it evenly and work it into the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. When the plants reach 2 feet tall, scatter 1 cup of fertilizer per 10 feet of garden row evenly in between the rows. Work it lightly into the soil, then water.

Planting

Sweet corn is particularly vulnerable to frost damage, so don't plant until after the last frost is behind you. Plant again when the first planting has three to five leaves, approximately two to three weeks later. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension recommends against using seed saved from last year's sweet corn, as "the seeds will not grow a good crop." Plant 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart in the row. Plant in several short rows, rather than one or two long rows, at a separation of about 2.5 to 3 feet. This block-planting strategy helps ensure the pollen blown from one plant will land on another's tassels. This is important because each individual kernel develops from an individually pollinated strand of "silk." Under-pollinated corn tassels result in underdeveloped corn kernels and poorly filled ears.

Best Harvest Practices

Signs of a corn ear reaching maturity include darkening, drying corn silk and the pointed top end becoming more blunt. Crush a kernel with your fingernail and see if a milk-like juice oozes out. If so, your corn is in the "milk stage," the best time to harvest sweet ears. For the sweetest of sweet corn, pick mature ears early in the morning. At this time, sugar levels in the kernels are at their highest. Cook, eat or chill sweet corn directly after harvest to prevent the rapid sugar-to-starch conversion from taking place and making your corn less sweet.

Keywords: New Jersey corn, Jersey sweet corn, Silver Queen hybrid, sugar-to-starch conversion

About this Author

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little is a freelance writer, blogger, and Web designer from New Orleans. She is a graduate of the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise (2006). Recent published work appears at Ideomancer.com (as Nicole J. LeBoeuf), StyleCareer.com and Pangaia.com.