Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for March 5, 2018:
Sweet corn is another crop that you can plant early. It can withstand some light frost and it should be planted early to beat the later onset of corn earworms.
The recommendation for planting corn is plant 7 days before the last frost date. Of course we never know exactly when that will be, but I have had plenty of people in past years plant corn successfully in late February and certainly early March. It takes several days for the seed to emerge from the soil and then the plant is not susceptible to light frosts. Even when you get burn back on a corn plant from a light frost it will regenerate from the living tissue below the soil line.
You will need to supply lots of nitrogen to grow corn. I would use 6-7 pounds of an 8-8-8 or 8-24-24 fertilizer per 100 feet of row prior to planting. Then side dress corn when it is 12 inches tall with 2 pounds of calcium nitrate, or the equivalent fertilizer,per 100 feet of row and then again at 24 inches of height.
Another major factor in corn production is good pollination. It is not uncommon for people to contact me because their corn ears do not fill out all the way to the end of the cob; that is a result of poor pollination. To prevent this, plant at least 3 rows of corn side by side. Three or four shorter rows of corn will give you much better pollen distribution than planting one or two longer rows.
Plant seed at a depth of ½ to 1 inch and space them out every 8 to 10 inches within the row. At that spacing it will take 3 to 4 ounces of seed per 100 feet of row. You can plant a little thicker, but you will need to come back and thin plants to the proper spacing to get your production.
In the sweet corn business great strides have been made by breeders to increase sugar content and today you have a number of good choices. The most traditional of us still likes the old standard sweet varieties such as Merit, Funk’s G-90 and Silver Queen. Also try Gold Queen, and Seneca Horizon.
There are varieties that are even sweeter. They are designated as super sweet (Sh2) and sugar enhanced (SE). These varieties do not germinate as well in cooler weather, so you might want to wait a few weeks before planting them. They also need to be planted so they do not cross pollinate with other varieties, as that will dilute their sugars and enhance the lesser varieties. A good plan is to plant them 3 weeks after the standard varieties so they do not have pollen at the same time to cross.
Recommended super sweet varieties would include Golden Queen, and Honey and Pearl.
Sugar enhanced varieties to try are Ambrosia, Avalon, Bodacious, Delectable, Honey Select Incredible, Lancelot, Miracle, Precious Gem and White Out.
Watch for corn earworm activity once corn begins to tassel. Corn earworms will eat the kernels and you have probably seen them when you shucked corn. For control, you can treat silks with Sevin, Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, Permethrin or Spinosad. Follow the label for application intervals and timing of harvest.
Sweet corn should be harvested early in the morning while it is cool. When silks begin to turn brown to black, check ears for to see if they are filled out, plump and their juices are milky.