How close can I grow sweet corn?

Creek-side(5)March 2, 2014

I have a decent sized garden (7000 square feet or so), but I grow a lot of things in it. This year my wife wants me to grow some sweet corn, so things are getting a little tight.

How close can I grow sweet corn? I used to plant seeds 4" apart in rows 36 inches apart, butt that was when I had more than an acre to plant. I'm hoping I can really pack it in and not give up any space, like 4" apart in rows a foot apart? Am I dreaming?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Dreaming? No although I wouldn't go with 12" on rows simply because you can't access between them for pest patrol, the required supplemental feedings, and harvesting.

I used 6" on center and 24" on rows the past couple of years with good results but if you are more skinny than I am you might be able to get by with 18" on rows.

Just keep in mind that intensive planting also requires much more intensive feeding.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 6:43PM
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5-10, that skinny? 18 inch rows would be good.

I don't know what to think about that feeding thing. I only fertilize once a year, with horse manure. Year in, year out, I get great results with everything I grow.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 7:26PM
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I do a lot with corn that is not "recommended" and it works great for me. I don't feed except to water with liquid fish emulsion a couple of times. I dont' do any pest control. and I plant wide row patches -- i.e., a solid block that is about three feet wide, with about 4" between plants and 6 or 8 inches between rows. I don't need to get between the plants because I can easily reach in across the 3 feet from either side to harvest. You could probably easily reach across a 4 foot wide patch (judging by *your* measurements :) )

However, I don't normally get more than one ear per plant. Probably if I did more as Dave says, I'd get more ears?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:48PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Whatever works for you is fine. But corn is normally known as a very heavy feeder, one of the most heavy N users there is. And it is a fast grower using up soil N quickly.

So it often needs supplemental feedings at specific stages of growth for best growth and production. So usually a high nitrogen supplement of some sort - ammonium nitrate being the most common used by commercial growers but blood meal, cottonseed meal, composted manures, or any high N fertilizer works well - is applied as a side dressing and lightly hoed in approx. 6 weeks after planting (knee high stalks) and again as needed when the tassels form.

Obviously if you are sure your soil contains more than ample N at planting time this supplemental feeding can be skipped. But since N dissipates rapidly into the air in addition to being quickly used by the corn it is always best IME to supplement it at least once during the season. Your choice. Why not try a half supplemented patch and a half not supplemented patch next to each other and see which does better.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 1:16PM
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Yes, I like that idea. Or just give N to the whole shebang and see if it does better than other years. Knee high is easy to remember.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:37PM
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I wouldn't plant them less them 2 feet apart from all direction.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 2:52AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Well, we've got some variation of advice. I never plant thickly. I plant and then thin to no closer usually than a foot apart in the row and about 27 or 28 inches between rows. This works well for me as I have plenty of room and plant 7 successive plantings.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:23AM
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