How to plant corn

Zea mays

Corn is a cultivated plant quite different from the wild plants from which it originated, called teosynthes. With many cultivars and hybrids, the plant can grow from 70 cm to 2.5 m in height, have a life cycle from 3 months to 10 months, and have grains suitable for very specific purposes, such as flour or popcorn, or to be used as green corn, that is, with its grains still well hydrated.


Corn can be grown in different climatic regions, with cultivars adapted to different temperature and humidity conditions. However, corn cannot withstand low temperatures. The minimum temperature during its life cycle should be 13 ° C, ideally at least 16 ° C. On the other hand, in very hot and dry weather, pollination can be impaired.


Corn needs high light and should receive direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.


The soil must be well drained, fertile, rich in organic matter and with good nitrogen availability. The ideal soil pH is 5.5 to 6.8.


Irrigate as often as necessary so that the soil is kept moist, but without remaining soggy. Corn has relatively shallow roots and can be very sensitive to a lack of water during its growth. When ears are well developed, irrigation is no longer needed.


The seeds are usually sown directly at the definitive location of the garden or plantation, but they can also be sown in sowing and transplanted when they fill the modules with their roots, or in cups made of newsprint, then transplanting when the seedlings are 8 to 10 cm high.

The spacing between plants varies depending on the cultivar and the local growing conditions, but a spacing of 1 meter between planting lines and 20 cm between plants can generally be used. For smaller cultivars, the spacing can be 80 cm between rows and 20 cm between plants. For small-scale cultivation, it is possible to use a simple spacing between plants, which can be 30 cm between plants of larger cultivars and 20 cm between plants of smaller cultivars.

Corn can also be grown in large pots. In a 50 cm diameter pot it is possible to plant three seeds, forming a triangle. In slightly smaller pots, plant only one or two seeds. It is important to have a total of at least four plants to promote good pollination, the ideal being to have at least 9 plants. And keeping the plants forming a square is better than keeping the plants forming a line. All this is because corn is pollinated by the wind and not by insects, so a compact crop is more likely to achieve good pollination than a linear crop or a crop with more dispersed plants.

Another important factor is not to plant two corn cultivars that will flower at the same time in the same location. Different cultivars must remain at least 400 meters apart. Unlike a fruit, such as a tomato, which always has the phenotypic characteristics of the cultivar of your plant, the corn grain has the phenotypic characteristics determined by the fertilization that generates it, and may be very different from the phenotypic characteristics of the cultivar of your plant. mother plant. For this reason, it is possible to find ears of corn that have grains of several different colors on the same ear.


The control of invasive plants should be carried out with some care, since the roots of the corn are superficial and can be easily damaged.

Corn is nutrient-demanding. In general, fertilization is necessary during its cultivation cycle. If the plants have young leaves that are losing the vigor of their color, it is a sign that a new fertilization is necessary.


Harvest time varies widely, and depends on the cultivar or hybrid of corn that is planted. Some cultivars are early and others late. So the harvest can happen in about three months or take up to ten months.

For use as green maize, ears are harvested when well developed, but before they begin to dehydrate. The ear will usually be at the point of harvest when the stigmas (the hair of the ear of corn) are brown in color. The harvest of corn for other purposes is carried out only when the ears are very dry.

The seeds of pure cultivars for future planting should be chosen from ears of plants that have grown and produced well. Separating seeds for planting after all the corn has been harvested is a procedure that should be avoided. The appearance of the grain is just one factor among many for choosing seeds. Factors such as plant vigor, disease resistance and productivity are equally important and should not be overlooked when choosing corn kernels for use as seeds. Hybrid corn seeds, on the other hand, must be purchased from a qualified producer at each planting, as hybrid corn does not normally maintain its qualities with each new generation.

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