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Too Much Grass in the Corn!!!

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:54 am
by Lextextrapper
I have about 10 rows of sweet corn that are about 75-ft long and the grass is already taking over. It's too big of an area to try to hoe. Are there any other options for me to control the grass?

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:01 am
by Kenzie
A few ppl I've talked to said to put cardboard down around the plants and in between your rows or put down plastic. I haven't tried either, but I have lots of old boxes on hand in case we need them.
Of course, you only want to use uncoated, plain brown boxes.

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 3:19 am
by Lextextrapper
Thanks for the tip. I have access to a bunch of old shavings that came out of a turkey barn. I wonder if I could mulch with it to control the grass/weeds.??

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:37 pm
by rootsy
Always options... But don't know what your row spacing is... Rototiller... Tractor N cultivator... run a lawnmower between the rows and lay down plastic... Bayer Laudis...

Corn is technically a grass.. so if you chose to use chemicals to kill the grass in your corn, make sure it is labeled for use on sweet corn.. otherwise... You'll be replanting...

To get johnson, crab and quack grass out easier modify a std hoe and make sure it is sharp. Weeding hoes used for tomatoes up here for the past 100 years are cut down versions of your standard hoe. Cut the blade so that it is about an inch and a half to 2 inches thick.. Leave it stock width... If you can press a slight arc into it across the width that helps also... again... make it sharp... Bevel goes on the back side... helps to get in and around plants and the narrow blade reduces drag and allows you to cut in with the ends to uproot grasses and such...

Or just buy one of these... made from a disk blade... heavy, sharp and heat treated so it is tough....pricey though...

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:15 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
Action hoes are fastest and if you cut the crowns of grass a few times they usually give up...


Chemical herbicides are probably a bad idea, and even non-chemical types like acetic acid (think vinegar) are likely to burn the corn too...

The native tribes in my neck of the woods interplanted corn with beans (which climbed the corn and fed it as they fixed atmospheric nitrogen) and pumpkins and squash, which shaded the ground and kept weeds down. Like rootsy sez, always options...


Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:55 am
by Rob
I like HG's suggestions: the 3 sisters.
Plant pumpkins and squash with your corn to create a living mulch / cover that shades out the weeds. Beans are planted to run up the poles and for the nitrogen (which corn loves).

This is the first year I've tried, so later I'll let you know how it's working.

Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:15 am
by 2cents
As a young teen working on a farm we used to hoe 1/4 mile long rows. With practice, you could do 2 rows in the morning and two after lunch. That was a mile of hoeing in one day. Hence the meaning of "a long row to hoe" saying
Nowadays, doubt I could do 1000 feet in a day, or before my arms fell off.

The triangular hoe or a triangular with flat tip worked best. The slight curvature someguys made, didn't work for me.
We sharpened them everyday and honed them a bit at lunch too.
I like the looks of the Action Hoe HG has pictured.

The pole bean thing with corn isn't as good for the beans as it is for the corn, but is okay. Bush beans work really well with corn, I personally can recommend it, it works great. The squash corn bean mix, well good luck with that one also and good luck keeping the bugs and mildew diseases down, I've not had much success, jusdt wasted time space and seeds.

If anyone has the 3 plant technique down, please let us know how, because it intrigues me.

These days, I would till between the rows and cardboard paper if there was room between some of the plants, but you have too long a rows and likely not that much paper.
So leave it go, the corn eventually outgrows the grass, with some loss of production. And plow that grass deep next year.

Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:54 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
Mildew and bugs are squash issues to be sure, but I keep mildew off with milk (10 to 1 or with a hose end sprayer of straight milk) and occasional neem oil, and have had luck with neem, spinosad, and occasional pyrethrin sprays (I like to alternate so they don't get used to any one thing) for squah bugs and beetles. This year I am going to try trap cropping with a Mother Hubbard, as I hear they prefer that above all others.

Hopefully it will not be as wet and cool as last year so less fungal issues...


Posted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:34 pm
by Gary350
Run the tiller between the rows that should get 95% of the grass.

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:03 am
by Lextextrapper
Thanks for all the suggestions. I ran the tiller between the rows when I got home yesterday. I think the grass is bermuda grass and I just can't seem to get rid of it. I've disked that area over and over again.

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 4:41 am
by cynthia_h
Bermuda grass propagates from pieces of the root.

Thus, when you till it, you're cutting the roots up into MORE little pieces. The Bermuda grass seeds you've brought to the surface will sprout; the root pieces you've created will sprout; etc.

Maybe cardboard/carpet scraps, to deprive it of sunlight?

I fought Bermuda grass in Berkeley and won, but had *much less area* to deal with, believe me.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:08 am
by GardenLisa
I fond shading them out works. If you have any landscape cloth, put that down, then put the cardboard on top of that. You can use rocks to hold it down, or you can add compost, topsoil, all of those good things and just prepare a nice growing area for something else to overpower the grass, or to shift your rows next year...

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:55 am
by The Helpful Gardener
Sure. And solarizing with black plastic would kill the grass, it's seeds, and warm the soil profile, increasing root production. It would also likley increase transpiration in the plants, so watch watering carefully...