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corn row question

how much space should be between rows of corn? Is their a problem with corn growing tooo tall but not husky?

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engineeredgarden
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A foot apart is pretty common

EG

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jal_ut
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Corn should be planted in rows 30 to 36 inches apart and plants 8 to 12 inches apart in the rows.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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rainbowgardener
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All of these questions are controversial, with no one definitive answer. Jal_UT has plenty of land and likes to give plants plenty of room.

Here's an Iowa State U study that suggests you get better yields with 15"
wide rows than 30"

https://www.agronext.iastate.edu/corn/production/management/planting/row.html

Here's one from U Conn, that doesn't mention the yields but says you have less weeds (and therefore for farmers less use of herbicides) by using 15" rows instead of 30"

https://www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/forage/htms/cornrow.htm

Then of course there is the square foot gardening folks.

They grow very intensively in super enriched soil -- actually not soil, it's 1/3 mixed composts, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite.

They would put 4 corn seeds in one square foot.!

So the answer is ... it depends on your soil, your sun and climate, how intensively you are willing to care for your plants with watering, feeding etc. But if you are a backyard gardener you likely can get more and healthier corn by spacing closer than traditional farmers did. If I had room and fencing enough to grow corn, I'd start with 15" apart rows and experiment from there.

(Disclaimer... I don't grow corn myself any more. Don't have room where I am now. When I used to live where I did have room, I tried it a few years, but didn't have fencing enough. Every critter in the world, deer, birds, raccoons, mice etc etc LOVES corn. Couldn't get any for myself)
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applestar
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It also depends on your expectations.

If you are expecting to grow corn you get from farmer's stands with fully filled rows and rows of sweet corn kernels, then you probably need to give the plants plenty of room and plenty of fertilizer and plenty of water, etc.

If you can be satisfied to see your kids, super excited to find 6" scantily filled corn in the garden, jump up and down that we eat them right away, then pronounce them "GREAT!" and declare that the unfilled/undeveloped tip of the cob tasted sweet and was even better than the kernels, and fight over who got to eat the next one, then... well, you get the idea. :wink:

Next year, when you strive to do better, and you get bigger better yields, and your kids ask that we grow corn every year, you can start experimenting. I still can't grow the big farmer stand corn, and I don't have enough space to plant a big enough block unless I sacrifice growing something else. But my hand pollinated (I gently shake the tassles -- and the cloud of pollen -- over the silks every morning after the dew dries) little ears are getting more filled, and the kids still fight over the sweet unfilled cob tips. :()

rkunsaw
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I've had good results with one foot each way in a block with six rows.
I started with nothing and still have most of it!!!

garden5
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Well, it looks like RG pretty much summed up the whole concept: to each his own. It depends on your wants, needs, and circumstances. If you have room to spare, go ahead and space them wider. But, if you only have a small patch, closer spacing may result in better pollination due to more stalks, which will result in better-filled cobs.
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jal_ut
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Corn is a large plant. It gets six feet tall and 3 feet wide (at least).
Its roots go out 3 to 4 feet wide in all directions. It needs room for roots and leaves. It needs sunshine on the leaves and a breeze to bring in the carbon dioxide used in photosynthesis. It is a heavy feeder and requires good fertile soil to succeed.

I have on two occasions plated a block of corn 12 feet by 20 feet and rows 15 inches apart. On both occasions I found the stalks on the outside of the planting made ears. The plants on the interior just made stalks. No ears.

When I plant corn with 30 inch rows and plants spaced 12 inches, nearly every stalk gets two nice big fat ears of corn on it. That sure beats none which I found to be the case with about 75 percent of it if planted close.

I think 3 rows at 15 inches may work. At least you would get good ears on the two outside rows. On a larger block the plants in the middle get cheated for sunlight, wind, and root space. I will never recommend 15 inch rows for more than 3 rows. 3 rows at 30 inches is ideal. Make them 15 to 20 feet long if you have the space. Then you will get some corn.

Actually two rows of corn will produce some good corn, but the ears may not be filled completely. With 3 rows you get better pollination.

Hey, I have only been growing corn for 50+ years, what do I know?
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farmerlon
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Yes, I have to agree with jal_ut on the 30-36" spacing. Corn needs space to grow, and sun... and, above all, you need to have enough room to be able to walk between the rows.

The exception would be a small bed planting of corn; "square foot", "lasagna", or whatever you wish to call it. There, 12 inches or so spacing, in each direction, would probably work fine.

But, for a "typical" planting of 4 rows (or more), with 15-20' (or longer) rows... spacing the rows 30-36" apart will give the best results.

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soil
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i planted corn 1 per sq foot last year, in a plot of 10' x 20'. and had so much fresh corn is was amazing. the plants in the center produced just as much as those on the edge. i think it is totally dependent on soil and how you garden.
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Alan in Vermont
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I'm trying to figure out how you get between 15", or worse, 12" rows to pick.

Maybe if you have no more than 6 rows you can reach in to pick them all.

I don't like the cuts you get from pushing through thick corn and I'm not a big fan of getting soaking wet from dew when picking in the early morning.

IMO Jal has it right.

Because some of my soil crusts over when it dries out I like to run a tiller between rows so rain can soak right in, even from a brief shower. I got real tired of walking behind a tiller so I moved up to a tractor/tiller. With narrow tires on the rear I can clear 42" rows. To get a little wiggle room I really need 46". To get plant counts where they need to be for economics I plant two rows 8" apart with 46" between pairs. Plant density is somewhere between 30 and 36" rows. Two, well filled ears per stalk for the most part.

tylianna
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Last year, my first year of gardening, I planted double rows of corn, three feet apart. I planted two types of corn (kinds that don't cross pollinate). My corn plot was 10' by 15'.

Kinda hard to describe except to write it out:

X (1') X (3 feet) X (1') X (3 feet) X (1') X (3 feet) X (1') X

So the space between the double was 1 foot, then the spacing between each double row was approx 3 feet. But, I just guestimated, so it could have been more like 30" or so. I had great results with the corn and we ate the best sweet corn we have ever tasted!

Of course this year I am planting with the Three Sisters method as an experiment. Who knows what I will do next year!

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I am worried because corn is pushing 4 foot but skinny as a twig and I already killed 3 tomatoes plants w/ fertilizer, and 5 sweet will not grow fruit because of fertilizer. I am thinking someone like me should buy from the local farmers market. -helpsos-

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rootsy
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The more you crowd it the more fertilizer you are going to need... To a point. Eventually it will just be too close and will compete too heavily.

30" rows are standard in the row crop world anymore... For dent corn and machine harvested sweet corn.

If you have to walk down the rows you want it wider... 36" is a good number...

I plant on 36" rows for 2 reasons... #1 that is as narrow as my corn planter goes... It's from the 50's when wider rows were the norm because of harvesting machinery limitations and plant genetics... #2 36" is as narrow as I can go on my Super A for cultivating....

With a narrow row planter I'd go 30's but then I'd have to rely on chemical herbicides for weed control instead of mechanical cultivation... At least with the Super A... I do have a 4 row rotory hoe for the 560 that could do 30's but that is overkill on my small fields... and means I have to leave large headlands to turn around on.

8" between plants... on 36" rows gets me into the 22K / acre population...

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rainbowgardener
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So we have different gardening styles, different climates, AND some of you I would consider farmers (anyone with acreage and a tractor! :) ) and some of us are backyard gardeners. All those things make a difference. What makes sense to do with a 20'x20' plot (or a 4'x8' bed!) is likely very different from what makes sense if you are going to put some acres in corn.

If I do get back to where I can grow corn (I would love to!), it would likely be one or two 4x8' beds and I will do square foot gardening and plant at least a couple per square foot. But I can tend those square feet in a whole different way than you can tend the acres.
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