Everything You Need to Know for Growing Sweet Corn

Incredible Sweet Corn Variety

On this week’s episode, Travis explains the many different tasks of growing sweet corn. Travis previously planted a sweet corn variety known as Incredible which is sugary enhanced that has a higher sugar content than other standard varieties allowing it to have excellent flavor profiles. Another benefit of this variety is it contains a great disease package and improved storage than older heirloom varieties. He planted the sweet corn using the Garden Seeder and spaced them about 4 to 6 inches apart since they were planted on drip tape.

Hilling, Side-Dressing, & Fertilizing Sweet Corn

The first major reason behind hilling sweet corn is for weed suppression. By using the Double Wheel Hoe and cultivating between the rows of corn you are able to keep the weeds down. By smothering out the weeds between the plants you are reducing weed pressures because they cannot get sunlight or continue to grow and will end up dying in the garden. The second reason for hilling sweet corn is for better plant stabilization. By throwing soil up around the sweet corn it ensures that the plants are stabilized and it will be less likely that harsh wind or rain will cause your crops to lean over. It also allows the roots to grip into the soil a little bit better throughout the growing sweet corn process. The third reason for hilling is for better side-dressing and applying granular fertilizer to the sweet corn. When it comes to side-dressing corn the first step is to simply apply granular fertilizer to the side of the plants along the garden row. Then, take a wheel hoe and cover the fertilizer up while throwing soil to the corn for plant stabilization and weed suppression. The ideal tool for hilling is the High Arch Wheel Hoe with the plow set attachment in the hilling position. The high arch has a gap or space between the two toolbars and the wheels which allows you to easily straddle the rows to throw soil to both sides of the plants in one pass through along the rows. Another benefit to this wheel hoe is the 15-inch clearance that allows you to straddle even the taller plants as they continue to grow. When it comes to the fertilizer or mainly nitrogen requirements for sweet corn it is recommended that 250 lbs per acre of nitrogen is needed throughout the life of the plant. However, since most gardeners are growing sweet corn on a smaller acre, Travis suggests about 5.7 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Travis recommends spoon-feeding throughout the entire life of the plant, therefore instead of giving them five and a half pounds of nitrogen at one time he will break that up and give them around half increments about 4 to 5 times. Travis uses three sources of nitrogen when growing sweet corn which is chicken manure, Chilean nitrate, and 20-20-20 garden fertilizer. He places the chicken manure compost down beside the plants for his first nitrogen application. For the second spoon-feeding he will use the Chilean Nitrate as a side-dress because it is a natural source of high nitrogen and it has a little granulated form that makes it easier to sprinkle around the plants. For a 1,000 square foot plot if the entire bag of Chilean nitrate is used it will give the area 1.5 pounds of actual nitrogen which is just the right amount for spoon-feeding sweet corn. All that’s left is to provide three pounds of nitrogen using the 20-20-20 garden fertilizer. Travis simply uses the 20-20-20 in the fertilizer injector which runs through the drip system in the vegetable garden. Overall, when growing sweet corn is very important to hill, side-dress, and fertilize throughout the growing stages of corn to ensure you get maximum production and healthy plants.

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