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GardenRN
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Question on Corn

A few members may be particularly good for answering this question.

Last year I had a problem with my corn releasing pollen before the silks were out, or out far enough. Not only did my plants seem to get to the pollination stage at different times, but the individual plants timing even seemed to be off. The result was many ears that were not fully developed, some only about 2 or 3 inches of ripe kernels. Any ideas as to why this happened?

I planted 121 stalks in a 11x11 foot square. I was very close to 100% germination I think. Water was about average. I did add blood meal to the soil that year, but I doubt that's what did it. I ended up trying to pollinate a lot of them myself, but it's tough. You all know how easily pollen disperses from a corn tassle as soon as you touch it.

I also planted a little earlier this past year, following the phenological indicators in my area. Everything seemed to sprout in a timely fashion.

Any thoughts? I'd like to avoid the same outcome this year.
Jeff

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jal_ut
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I would suggest a different variety. Maybe one of the SE types? Which variety did you plant?
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GardenRN
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it was peaches and cream...can't remember if I got it from walmart of Park's
Jeff

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DoubleDogFarm
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Move to Iowa.

After you figure it out let me know. :)

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DeborahL
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I have never, ever tasted fresh corn that you pick and rush into a pot of water that's already boiling. It's on my Bucket List !
My question is, as a container gardener, would four corn plants actually produce in a huge tub with good soil, lots of food, plenty of sun and excellent drainage?
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GardenRN
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Corn has shallow roots. They would grow just fine in a large enough container. The trick would be pollination. With only 4 plants, you would almost certainly have to hand pollinate them. It's not incredibly difficult. I think explaining it here would just be confusing. I would recommend searching for a youtube video on it so you can see how it's done.

That being said, the first year I grew corn I didn't know about block planting and grew about 10 or 15 stalks in a straight, overcrowded row. They were the most successful I ever had.
Jeff

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jal_ut
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Corn has shallow roots. They would grow just fine in a large enough container.
[url=https://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch2.html]Check out this page[/url]
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GardenRN
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there i am...wrong again....lol, just when you think you know something.
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jal_ut
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Corn is a large plant. Its roots will go out 3 feet in all directions and deeper than the plant is tall. It requires room for both roots and sunshine. It also requires heat and carbon-dioxide. A little breeze helps bring the carbon-dioxide. The best advice I can give is to plant in rows 30 inches apart with a plant every foot in the row. You could plant 4 rows in your 11 foot wide area like that and see how it does. 40 plants instead of 121. Remember, corn needs nitrogen and water. I suspect that crowding had as much, or more, of a bearing on the ear size than pollination.

I have had good luck with just two rows of sweet corn 30 inches apart. Corn is wind pollinated and it seems to do fine left alone to do its thing. I do know that crowding corn is a mistake. Many stalks won't even produce an ear if its crowded.
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not to sound contradictory, I know you know your stuff. But I have grown corn for about 5 years now and planted seeds 1ft in each direction every time. Always worked well and I never had a problem with stalks not putting out ears. In fact, I have always gotten 2 ears per stalk. I did add the blood meal, which should have helped with the nitrogen. I don't know. 4 rows, that's not a lot of corn at my house, I'm sure it wouldn't go far at yours either! :)

I know I read somewhere about how shallow corn roots are. And I figured that was what attributed to them being so easy to pull up. Guess you always have to consider the source and not forget that anyone can make a web page that says anything. And who knows where I read it. Probably somewhere like www.jacklegfarmer.com or something lol.

Nix the container idea up there! It's not gonna be good.

Thanks for the info James. I think I'll go with your first advice first, which was to try a different variety. You are one of the ones I was mainly hoping would chime in on this one for me.
Jeff

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GardenRN
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:)
Jeff

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jal_ut
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it was peaches and cream...can't remember if I got it from walmart of Park's
Peaches and Cream is a good variety. I have tried several SE types and they all seem to do well here. I like the SE types because they last longer on the stalk and also keep well for a week in the refrigerator.

I have just been bumming around some seed catalogs and every page on corn has this: "10-12 inches between plants; 30-36 inches between rows"

You know there is good reason for this statement. It Works!
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jal_ut
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not to sound contradictory, I know you know your stuff. But I have grown corn for about 5 years now and planted seeds 1ft in each direction every time. Always worked well and I never had a problem with stalks not putting out ears. In fact, I have always gotten 2 ears per stalk. I did add the blood meal, which should have helped with the nitrogen. I don't know. 4 rows, that's not a lot of corn at my house, I'm sure it wouldn't go far at yours either!
In view of what you say here, it seems hard to explain what happened last season.

I will report that many years ago I decided to try growing a lot of corn in a small space. I took a plot about 20 x 20 and planted densely in rows 15 inches apart. I got some ears on the outer edges, but on the interior of the patch all I got was tall stalks. They did tassel, but no ears formed.


You are right, 4 rows 11 feet long is not enough, but if it gave two good ears per plant that is 80 nice ears. Far better than what you reported. I have the luxury of plenty of space and can plant as much corn as I want. I usually sell some. I plant 32 inches apart and my seeder drops a seed every 9 inches. If I get doubles, I pull one. I always get nice full ears. Since my only experiment with a dense planting didn't work out at all, I steer clear of crowded corn. Is there any way you can devote more room to corn?
Last edited by jal_ut on Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jal_ut
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My question is, as a container gardener, would four corn plants actually produce in a huge tub with good soil, lots of food, plenty of sun and excellent drainage?
Deborah, I wish I had the answer to this query. All I can say is, give it a try. That is how we learn. sometimes it doesn't turn out all that well, but now we know. If it did work, you would enjoy that fresh picked corn. Nothing like it.
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Maybe I can space a little more. I'll have to see how much room I have this year after laying out all of my setup. (BTW the corn is still going to go into the ground) I expanded the potato section quite a bit also.

Maybe part of my problem is worrying too much about it. THe first year I just planted it and left it alone other than watering and weeding. Last year I got so worried about it that I was constantly out there touching and interfering. I'll space em a bit, try to expand the area, leave it alone, and try a better strain of corn. :wink:
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DeborahL
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OK, I can have the fun of trying anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained !
If I get even one small ear to cook and taste I'd freak out. By the way, am I the only one who likes to bite into a raw ear of corn once in awhile?
They're sweet and good !
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I haven't grown sweet corn in a few years. Sugar Dots was / is one of the favorites in Washington gardens.

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jal_ut
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By the way, am I the only one who likes to bite into a raw ear of corn once in awhile?
No. I will often grab an ear, husk it, and eat it raw.
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Good, isn't it? :)
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I like the baby corn raw. When you can still eat the whole cob and all. But I can't stand it cooked for some reason.
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The SE (sugary enhanced) have always done well for me, also. This year I had Sugar Buns, Kandy King, Bodacious, and Sugar Pearl. There were only a small number of plants for some of these and I've made the claim that they are all bi-colors because they get mixed up . . ;). That isn't completely true but it becomes fairly obvious that there's quite a bit of cross-pollination in my corn patches.

I believe that Peaches and Cream is also a sugary enhanced type but I haven't grown it.

I am very happy with Sugar Buns and it is quite a small plant but there has been one in my garden that I had for a number of years that was almost embarrassingly small: Fleet.

Jeff, it could be that some of these little guys would be most suitable for your approach to growing corn. Look at the catalog descriptions and one of those that says it is about 5 1/2 feet tall may be the one for you. I know that Fleet wasn't usually even that tall :roll: . I'm sure that some of the neighbors thought there was something wrong with it. But, it was very early and quite tasty.

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N=2, but my first crop of Bi-Licious and Delectable was planted 12" in rows, and 36" between rows, and I averaged about 1.5 full ears per stalk.

My second crop of Bodacious was planted 12" x 24", and the yield was terrible. I got little runt ears with 3-4" of kernels on them, and the rest of the cob was just completely undeveloped. I doubt it was pollination, because the part that did develop was fully packed,

Granted, this location didn't get quite as much sun as the other, and the weather was a _lot_ less favorable, but they got plenty of water.

I'm going to guess the difference was nutrition. I didn't fertilize very much at all.

When I see commercially-farmed corn fields, they're _packed_ with plants. I'm usually driving by, so I can't measure, but to my eye (at 60 MPH) it looks like they're 6" in row, and about 24" apart. But they're probably pouring on fertilizer by the gallon.

Next year I'll plant as I did for the first, successful patch from this year.
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GardenRN
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Waterbug, half an ear being developed would exactly clue me into the pollination. But of course I am finding out every day that I don't know as much as I think I do.

It is my understanding that when the silk comes out of the ear, each "hair" leads to one individual kernel. And therefore for each kernel to develop, each hair would have to catch a piece of pollen. If pollenation is less than significant, you would end up with underdeveloped ears.

Did that make sense?

I think if the problem was fertilization, you would have ended up with short plants, less ears per plant, or ears that were completely unsatisfactory. The fact that half of the ear was very good definitely signals a pollination issue.

But I may be exactly wrong too.
Jeff

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But of course I am finding out every day that I don't know as much as I think I do.
Forget about it!

Jeff, I believe you are right on the pollination. Take a look.
Symptoms:

Cob tissue without kernels on the last one or more inches of the ear tip. Ovules not fertilized at ear tip.



Causes:

Poor fertilization of ear tip ovules at silking; poor pollination of ear due to asynchronous pollen shed and silking (poor “nickâ€

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DoubleDogFarm wrote:https://agcrops.osu.edu/specialists/corn/specialist-announcements/ear-abnormalities/troubleshooting-abnormal-corn-ears-and-related-disorders#PoorTipFillEric
Great link! Thanks!

Actually, looking at the photos, my ears looked much more like the "Blunt Ear Syndrome" near the top of the page.

How cold does the weather need to be to constitute a "cold shock?"

We seldom get below 50 degrees on summer nights.
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When I see corn that was not pollinated well, the pattern of unfertilized kernels is scattered all over the cob.

I can't say for sure what happened here, but don't let this stop you from planting again. I have had many garden failures, but the success rate far out weighs the failures. Try some different things each year too. Find what works for you. Plant in faith and hope for a harvest.
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jal_ut
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DoubleDogFarm, that was a neat link you posted. Thanks. I have never seen most of the problems discussed there, thankfully.
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Possible Causes of BES
Because ear development is arrested or stopped completely and suddenly (normal row numbers, then nothing), the cause of the problem would appear to be a single triggering event, not a lingering stress like nutrient deficiency or soil pH. One possible cause of BES could be the application of certain post-emergence herbicides (growth regulators or ALS-type) during the period of row number determination (V5 – V12). While possible, this cause can be ruled out because of the diversity of herbicide programs encountered in documented cases of BES.

Another possible cause of such a dramatic termination of ear development is chilling injury. Indeed, research reported from Belgium (Bechoux et al., 2000; Lejeune and Bernier, 1996; Lejeune et al., 1998) documented that chilling injury at the time of ear and tassel initiation (about V5) could prevent ear initiation altogether or reduce tassel branch and spikelet formation. Perhaps chilling injury to the developing ear at somewhat later leaf stages could similarly arrest further ear development?
The term “chilling injuryâ€
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[quote="DoubleDogFarm"]The term “chilling injuryâ€
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subscrbing ....
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Tilde wrote:subscribing ....
If you are looking for something informing regularly, I'm the wrong person. :P :lol:

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N o I just don't want to lose this thraed
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