How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

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Gary350
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How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by Gary350 »

How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Does corn variety effect seed spacing?

Corn takes up a lot of garden space next year I want to grow 200 plants in the smallest space possible. I drive country roads inspecting farmers corn field crops seed spacing is about 2" to 3" apart with 32" row spacing, corn 8ft tall. Can sweet corn be planted that close together?

This year I planted 5 rows 32" apart, 6" seed spacing. If I can do 3" seed spacing the same crop will take up 1/2 the space.

Lots of online information about growing sweet corn but nothing about seed spacing?

PS. I learned to plant corn rows parallel to prevailing wind so corn does not blow over in a high wind thunder storm.

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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by applestar »

Are you taking into account that corn stalks get to be 1~2 inches in diameter? If the mature corn you see in the field are 2” to 3” apart.

Also, the support roots spread and occupy much wider space. Maybe billing higher to cover them is helpful when growing them close?

I think what you are talking about is called “in row spacing”
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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by imafan26 »

I plant my corn seeds about 8-10 inches apart. I also plant in a solid block since I don't need the 3 ft maintenance row. My garden is very small so I have to be as compact as possible. Closer spacing does not work well since I still want enough space so that the corn leaves aren't crowding each other. It will cause issues when you have to pollinate if the corn is spaced too closely. The pollen won't be able to hit the silks if there are too many obstructions to the wind and leaves are in the way. The only other way around that would be to hand pollinate. I need to make sure air circulation is good. There is only a small window to plant corn and any missing ones can't be planted too late. I plant a few extra seeds at the same time in pots to use as fillers for any seeds that failed to survive.
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Gary350
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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by Gary350 »

applestar wrote:Are you taking into account that corn stalks get to be 1~2 inches in diameter? If the mature corn you see in the field are 2” to 3” apart.

Also, the support roots spread and occupy much wider space. Maybe billing higher to cover them is helpful when growing them close?

I think what you are talking about is called “in row spacing”
I should have said, distance between corn stalks is 2" to 3" apart. If corn stalks are 1" diameter and 3" between them seed spacing will be 4". The 70 day corn I have been growing is small corn, stalks are about 1" diameter.

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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by greenstubbs »

If you could really study those fields, you'd see that there may be a couple of plants together scattered around here and there in the field. Just follow the direction on the bag/package and you'd do good.

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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by Gary350 »

greenstubbs wrote:If you could really study those fields, you'd see that there may be a couple of plants together scattered around here and there in the field. Just follow the direction on the bag/package and you'd do good.
Yes i have noticed field corn spacing is not perfect. Each farmer has his own idea what works best. My cousin in Illinois plants 2000 acres of field corn every year. After several years of experiments he only does 32" row spacing and 5" seed spacing. 5" seed spacing vs 6" seed spacing is $20,000. extra profit even with the extra cost of seed & fertilizer.

I don't think any home gardener cares about profit or $1 more for seeds and $3 more fertilizer. I want to grow the most corn possible in the smallest space possible and have best flavor corn possible. Maybe next year I plant, 2 rows 5" seed spacing & 2 rows 6" seed spacing & 2 rows 7" seed spacing, then keep track of how much corn is produced by each 2 rows.

Last year I did 36" row spacing for the whole garden. This year I did 32" row spacing for the whole garden. That is the wrong thing to do each plant needs its own correct row spacing. Corn does good with 32" spacing. Tomatoes & peppers need 4' row spacing. Potatoes need 8" row spacing and onions 4" row spacing.

Several times in the past I have planted 230 corn seeds in a 10'x10' square 12" between rows and have a very good harvest but it is a lot of work to weed corn planted this close together. I planted 30 corn seeds in a 24" circle it does fairly well and easy to weed.

This year I planted 400 seeds, 6" apart, 32" row spacing. High soil 8 ph problem we had maybe 250 to 300 good ears. If I get soil ph & fertilizer correct next year 200 plants might do as well as 300 plants did this year.

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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by TheWaterbug »

Every year I plant 5 rows x 30' = 150 lineal feet for a Labor Day harvest party. The rows are 3' apart, and I drop a seed every 4", but then thin down to 1' spacing after the corn is up. Despite overseeding, I always get 10 - 15 feet of empty row scattered here and there, and then I transplant some of my extra seedlings into those spaces. Corn transplants pretty well as long as it's shorter than 3-4" tall. Once it gets taller than that it doesn't transplant very well at all, and late transplants never make ears for me.

I usually average slightly more than 1 harvestable ear by party time, and then I get another 30-50 ears maturing over the following 1-2 weeks after that day.

So overall about 1.25 - 1.5 harvestable ears per stalk.
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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by Gary350 »

TheWaterbug wrote:Every year I plant 5 rows x 30' = 150 lineal feet for a Labor Day harvest party. The rows are 3' apart, and I drop a seed every 4", but then thin down to 1' spacing after the corn is up. Despite overseeding, I always get 10 - 15 feet of empty row scattered here and there, and then I transplant some of my extra seedlings into those spaces. Corn transplants pretty well as long as it's shorter than 3-4" tall. Once it gets taller than that it doesn't transplant very well at all, and late transplants never make ears for me.

I usually average slightly more than 1 harvestable ear by party time, and then I get another 30-50 ears maturing over the following 1-2 weeks after that day.

So overall about 1.25 - 1.5 harvestable ears per stalk.
I read online corn seeds are very sensitive to fertilizer nitrogen prevents seeds from germinating. Next garden season I am using no fertilizer on corn until 3 weeks after seeds germinate. I have the same problem you mentioned I plant 400 seeds and 300 will germinate. I always though it was bad seeds or planting the wrong depth or planting the wrong time. I also read corn will not germinate in wet soil plant 7 days before the next rain. Corn germinates in 55 degree F or warmer soil. Corn needs 1 lb of Urea in every 40 ft row every 2 weeks all season. Corn needs 1 lb of 15-15-15 fertilizer when plants are 12" tall and again when ears start to grow silks. Corn likes 75 to 85 degree temperatures, full sun all day, lots of water. This information is online research data for field corn there is not much research data for sweet corn. All research data says 32" Row spacing. Not much information online about seed spacing that appears to be determined by how much full sun you have at your geographical location. When I lived in Phoenix AZ it is almost the same Latitude as where I live in TN but full sun in AZ is much different than full sun in TN. AZ has no clouds all day and big sky country plants get full sun from 5 am to 8 pm. TN sun is above the trees about 8 am and behind tree about 6:30 pm shy is 50% clouds. TN gets about 60% less full sun than AZ. AZ humidity is too low corn silks are not sticky pollen will not stick ears have no seeds. AZ farmers plant corn seed spacing 1" apart plants are so close together they tough each other, they grow corn only for silage to feed cattle.

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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by imafan26 »

Corn is a heavy feeder. My soil is very high in everything especially phosphorus, but my pH is about 6.0. I still use a little starter nitrogen but I divide the total nitrogen into a couple of separate side dressing. I use a slow N fertilizer.

I can't really find a nitrogen only fertilizer that does not contain anything else. With my low pH I can use chicken manure as is has a NPK of approx 3.0-0.5-0.5. It is also loaded with calcium which brings my pH up about 0.5 point. Only half the nitrogen is available. Otherwise, I use a 6-4-6 fertilizer with slow N as a starter and the side dressings are sulfate of ammonia. I could use urea since I don't want the pH to drop any more, but I have a hard time controlling the amount since it is twice as potent at
46-0-0. I did add dolomite lime this year to correct pH. My other plots are strongly alkaline, approaching pH of 8.0. They are chronically nitrogen poor and require much more nitrogen to get a good crop than my acidic plot. Those plots are rich in highly alkaline composts. I have had to plant a green manure prior to planting the main crop and they have been sulfured as well. I get good results but it will not last for a second planting. I don't see micro nutrient deficiencies, but the plants are a lot smaller in the alkaline soils than in my acidic plot.

I add about 2-3 inches of compost to the garden every time I plant. The local compost tests at a pH of 8.13 so it is used to buffer the pH. The quality of the city compost is not very good, and usually I buy compost, the main ingredients are still "forest products", but some of them have had chicken manure added and mushroom compost. I till in garden residues from clean plants as well.

I used to do more green composting of trenched kitchen waste, but I don't have enough to count on it. Those, I use to feed the worm bin.

When your pH is alkaline, you can still use a starter N fertilizer or you can start your seeds since they contain all the nutrients they need to get them through till the leaves appear and begin side dressings of nitrogen at that time. However, timing is important and corn and other starter vegetables and fruiting plants need a lot of nitrogen to support early growth and fruit production, so I like to have some starter nitrogen. I usually do two side dressing of nitrogen with corn. Corn likes a pH between 5.5-7.0.
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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by TheWaterbug »

I'd never heard about nitrogen toxicity until a few days ago, when I started reading about proper usage of urea. I'm glad I read that before just blithely tilling in a bag!

I do till in about an inch of composted steer manure during bed prep, but from what I've read, composted manures are OK.

I'd like to try using urea, because it's so incredibly cheap compared to every other kind of fertilizer, but I'm not quite sure how it'll work with the drip system that I use. Maybe I should side-dress after the corn is up and then run a sprinkler for a few days.

Right now I use Liquinox Grow (10-10-5) because it goes through my fertilizer injectors quickly and easily, but it's expensive.

Or could I till in some urea pellets, along with some wood chips, 2-3 weeks before planting, water it all in, and let it diffuse through the soil? Would it be OK for planting after 2-3 weeks?
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Re: How close together do YOU plant corn seeds?

Post by Gary350 »

TheWaterbug wrote: I'd like to try using urea, because it's so incredibly cheap compared to every other kind of fertilizer, but I'm not quite sure how it'll work with the drip system that I use. Maybe I should side-dress after the corn is up and then run a sprinkler for a few days.
I like Urea because it seems like it is impossible to over dose plants & kill them, I have not killed any plants yet. Ammonium nitrate is too each to over dose plants I am glad I am not using it anymore I killed too many plants I was afraid to use it. .

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