Watering Corn is Important!

Watering Sweet Corn

If fact, watering corn is so important, it could make or break your crop! Corn plants need approximately 1 1/2 inches of water every week in order to thrive and reach their full potential. Drought conditions will result in stunted plants that are reluctant to produce full sized ears of corn. Because diseases are fairly rare, it's fine to water the tops of the plants as well as the roots. A standard lawn sprinkler will do the job just fine.

Sunset In Cornfield

Watering corn is done best in the early morning hours. That way, the afternoon sun will evaporate any extra water that isn't absorbed into the soil. It will also eliminate water from sitting on the ears of corn, preventing the development of mildew.

It's better to give your corn crop one long soak per week if no rain falls, rather than several short watering sessions. The plants derive most of their water and nutrients through the root system. If too little water is applied per session, it won't reach the roots and your efforts will be wasted. Remember to take into account any rain that falls. Too much watering may also stunt the growth of the corn plants.

In order to retain soil moisture and temperature, a layer of mulch can be applied. Grass clippings, hay or chopped up leaves are usually the most readily available mulch options. The mulch can be applied in multiple layers. If you begin mulching early on, be sure not to cover up the seedlings. Additional layers of mulch can be added as the plants grow. It's not uncommon to have a 3-6 inch layer of mulch by the time the ears begin maturing. Proper mulching will also cut down on weed growth.

Fertilizing Sweet Corn

After the seedlings reach 12 inches tall, a 10-10-10 fertilizer can be applied to promote growth. Most granular fertilizers are applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Consult the fertilizer package for application instructions. Try to avoid letting the granules touch the plants themselves, as this may burn your plants. Instead, scatter the granules on the outside edges of the rows. Water shortly after applying the fertilizer. Watering corn after applying the fertilizer allows the granules to enter the soil where the roots can absorb it.

You may also choose to use a water soluble type fertilizer. In this case, it's easiest to use a hose end sprayer and apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Knee High Corn

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