Different Parts of a Corn Plant
Corn is native to the Americas. Christopher Columbus first discovered corn in Cuba, and then took it back to Europe. While the United States primarily grows three types of corn, the most commonly recognized variety is the yellowish-colored ears of corn that are commonly eaten off the cob. Regardless of the variety, corn plants have the same basic parts and plant structure.
The tassel is the male portion of the flower. It sits at the stop of the plant and attracts bees and other insects.
Corn stalks are the main body of the plant. Depending on the variety, the stalk can grow several feet high and is quite sturdy. The stalk is fairly stable because it must support the ears of corn.
Like any plant, corn plants can have numerous leaves on the stalk. Leaves can be long and typically grow up slightly before curving in a downward position.
The silk is part of the female portion of the plant’s flower. It grows out of the top of the cornhusk and may be colored green, yellow or brown, depending upon the corn variety.
The husk is the green leaves surrounding the corn ears. These leaves protect the kernels of the corn, which is the edible portion of the plant.
Corn ears encompass the silk, husk, kernels and cob of the corn plant. Harvesting the ears occurs when the plants mature.
Corn plants have two different sections of roots. The prop roots grow just on top of the soil while the crown roots are beneath the soil.
Late Can You Plant Corn?
Sweet corn (Zea mays L.) is an annual that can be grown in all U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones. Young corn and germinating corn seeds are vulnerable to frost. Corn requires a long growing period before it can be harvested. If there are fewer than 60 days left in the season before the first frost is expected, there may not be enough time for your corn to mature. The soil needs to be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the young seeds to grow and root. Lower temperatures will kill off the seed’s growth before it has a chance to get started. In colder areas, plastic ground covers can be used to warm up the soil before planting, with seeds planted through holes in the plastic. Do not plant the seeds too deep; the soil may not be as warm when deeper than 2 inches, and the seed will not grow. Planting too shallowly is a problem as well because the roots will not develop as deeply as they should. Want to keep it old school? No need to burn out the flashlights.) Plant your corn during the time period between the new moon and when the moon is full. In extreme heat, corn pollen is reduced. Not enough pollen equals not enough kernels. When deciding how late you can plant corn, take into consideration your own busy schedule. Plant your corn far enough apart that the roots have adequate room to grow; plants should be 8 to 12 inches apart, in rows 30 to 36 inches apart. Sweet corn tastes best when fresh. Corn ears should stay on the stalk until the silks turn brown. Inspect the kernels; they should be full and plump. Eat soon after your harvest or freeze your corn for winter meals. Don’t miss your window for harvest either, or you’ll be sharing your crop with insects or birds who take advantage of the corn waiting to be picked on the stalk.
- Enchanted Maze: Let's Talk About Corn
- Kentucky Corn Growers Association: Can You Identify the Parts of a Corn Plant?
- Iowa State University: Origin, History, and Uses of Corn
- Purdue University: Corn
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Growing Corn
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cropwatch: How Extended High Heat Disrupts Corn Pollination
- Farm Progress: 3 Corn Planting Mistakes to Avoid
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Gardening by the Moon