Sweet corn has been a delicious staple of the American diet since the American Indians introduced it to the settlers in the 1770s. It is grown in yellow, white and a combination of the two colors. Many varieties of sweet corn have become American favorites, including silver queen, butter and sugar, and calico belle.
For the best growth, all sweet corn seed should be treated with an insecticide and a fungicide before planting. Some companies offer seeds that have already been treated in advance. Space your rows 30 to 42 inches apart, and plant the seeds 1 inch deep every 8 to 10 inches. This spacing will allow for more corn to be planted per field. If you want an early harvest, plant your corn 10 to 20 days earlier and cover it with clear plastic. Leave the plastic over the germinating seeds and early plants for the first 30 days, then cut and remove it. Fertilize with nitrogen according to the manufacturer's instructions. This early fertilization is especially helpful if you plan an early harvest.
Insect and Disease-Control Tips
Sweet corn is especially susceptible to the corn earworm, and it is one of the most difficult insects to control. Earworms lay their eggs in the young silks, where they hatch and feed on the tips of the ears. To control this pest, treat the young corn plants with insecticide according to label directions until tassel shoots appear. Then, treat the plants with insecticide every two to three days until harvest. This will keep earworms from nibbling the silks and ends of the corn cobs. Disease in sweet corn tends to be infrequent, but two troublesome diseases include rust and smut. To avoid these diseases, choose sweet corn varieties like calico belle, viva and silverado, which are more tolerant and disease resistant.
As the sweet corn reaches maturity, the hulls become tough and the silks look dry. Harvest the corn when the ears are full size for their variety and the hulls are tight with dried silks. Corn will be ready to harvest around 18 to 22 days after the silks appear. Check a few ears of corn each day to determine if they are ready for harvesting. Harvest the corn in the cool of the morning and keep the ears cool after picking. This keeps the sweet corn in its freshest and most flavorful state.