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Why Is My Sweet Corn Growth Stunted?

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One issue stumping gardeners growing sweet corn is the occasional stunted growth of plants, including sweet corn. Causes include viruses, pests and unfavorable environmental conditions. Many of these conditions lead to nutrient deficiencies in the sweet corn plants.

Significance

Sweet corn planted in soil with a pH level of 5.2 and below grows stunted. Good corn growth occurs in soil with pH levels in the 5.5 to 7.0 range. After soil testing, the pH level can be fixed with the incorporation of lime after the sweet corn is harvested.

Warning

Sweet corn is susceptible to maize chlorotic dwarf virus, which turns the young leaves yellow or red and severely stunts the corn plants. Leafhoppers transmit this plant disease.

Considerations

Parasitic nematodes and grubs cause serious damage to the roots of sweet corn plants. The only above ground sign of pests feeding on the roots is stunted growth in localized areas. The root damage of these types of pests causes nutrient deficiency in the plants.

Other

Sweet corn will grow stunted if planted in compacted soil, which leads to abnormal root growth and nutrient deficiency. Herbicide carryover from the previous growing season will also stunt sweet corn.

Sweet Corn Come Up?

Sweet corn seedlings do not transplant well and should be started outdoors directly in the ground. They require a temperature of between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to successfully germinate and will fail completely if the soil temperature is below 55 F. Sow the seeds after all frost danger has passed and soil temperatures have warmed. If the soil warms slowly, cover the bed with black plastic sheeting for several weeks before sowing to artificially warm the soil. Sweet corn seeds make a prime target for foraging animals and insect pests. Diseases such as seed rot and damping-off decimate sweet corn seedlings, causing the seeds to mold and the emerging sprouts to wither and fail. Excess soil moisture provides prime conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Count the number of germinated seeds and divide it by 20, which will give you the germination percentage rate. Most herbicides will degrade over time and no treatment is necessary, although badly saturated soil may need an application of activated charcoal at a rate of 1/2-pound per 100 square feet of soil to sequester the chemical elements.

Sweet Corn Come Up?

Sweet corn seedlings do not transplant well and should be started outdoors directly in the ground. They require a temperature of between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit to successfully germinate and will fail completely if the soil temperature is below 55 F. Sow the seeds after all frost danger has passed and soil temperatures have warmed. If the soil warms slowly, cover the bed with black plastic sheeting for several weeks before sowing to artificially warm the soil. Sweet corn seeds make a prime target for foraging animals and insect pests. Diseases such as seed rot and damping-off decimate sweet corn seedlings, causing the seeds to mold and the emerging sprouts to wither and fail. Excess soil moisture provides prime conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Count the number of germinated seeds and divide it by 20, which will give you the germination percentage rate. Most herbicides will degrade over time and no treatment is necessary, although badly saturated soil may need an application of activated charcoal at a rate of 1/2-pound per 100 square feet of soil to sequester the chemical elements.

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