New Jersey is known for its sweet corn, which is relatively easy to grow in the Garden State because of the type of well-drained, moist soil. One sweet corn variety grown in New Jersey is Silver Queen, which has a slow sugar to starch conversion, making the corn kernels small, juicy and very sweet. From July to October sweet corn is sold all over New Jersey, from roadside booths to boardwalk stands. When growing sweet corn, certain problems may arise, such as insect infestation or improper pollination, so it is important to keep in mind some tips for growing sweet corn in the Garden State.
Plant sweet corn in New Jersey from the last week of March all the way to the first week of July. If you want to plant corn earlier, use a cold-resistant variety, but warmer temperatures are better for sweet corn because the temperature speeds up the growing process. Sweet corn germination is most optimal at around 60 degrees F, and full sunlight during the day is needed for proper growth. With this in mind, choose planting sites without shade. Make sure your soil is completely dry when you plant the corn seeds, but after that, keep the soil consistently moist. If you plan to grow sweet corn in an open field, dig irrigation canals before planting.
Plant sweet corn seeds in tight clusters to encourage pollination (or as tight as the planting instructions allow, usually about 1 foot apart). You will need at least two to three rows to encourage pollination. Plant different sweet corn varieties at least 30 feet apart so you don't have cross-pollination, and plant sweet corn at least 300 feet away from regular corn varieties.
Proper pH and Soil
The loamy, loose, clay soil of New Jersey is one of the reasons sweet corn thrives so well in this state. In soil such as this, corn can almost grow wild in certain areas. It is important to keep your soil pH around 6.0. New Jersey's IPM guidelines recommend you test your planting soil at least once every three years, to monitor parasitic nematodes, soil texture, herbicide rates and organic matter. This procedure is especially important whenever your cropping practices change. For pH that is lower, work limestone (liquid or powdered form) into the planting soil. For pH that is higher, add nitrogen fertilizer. At planting, apply 50 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. Fertilize again when the corn plants are about 12 inches tall with 70 lbs. of nitrogen per acre.
European Corn Borer
Almost 25 percent of the sweet corn crop in New Jersey becomes infested with European corn borer during the growing season, according to Rutgers University. Prevent this pest by buying resistant corn varieties, which includes Silver Queen.