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TheWaterbug
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Too early to plant corn in So California?

I live in Zip 90274, and [url=https://www.weather.com/outlook/homeandgarden/garden/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/90274?from=month_bottomnav_garden]weather.com tells me[/url] the average low in mid-late Feb is ~48°, rising up to 49-50° in March. The highs average ~66-68° through that same period.

Frost is a once-in-a-decade phenomenon that's not worth planning around.

Can I plant corn yet? What does corn do if it's not quite warm enough? Does it just mature later? Or does it grow smaller?

I'm really impatient, which is not a good trait for a gardener.

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Last edited by TheWaterbug on Fri May 25, 2012 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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rainbowgardener
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The temperature that matters is the SOIL temperature, not the air temperature as long as you are above freezing. I think of corn as a mid-range crop. Not cool season like broccoli etc, but doesn't need the soil totally warmed up like squash and melons. So if your soil temperature is above 50 degrees, you can plant your corn. Stick a thermometer down to planting depth, leave it for a few minutes and see.

If you plant corn when the soil is too cold, it may not germinate or the germination percentage will be reduced, or the time for germination will be greatly increased. The seeds that do germinate will be fine, it doesn't affect the plant after that, just the seed germination.
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TheWaterbug
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Ok! I just spent two hours forking up the corn patch. I need to mix in some manure or something, and then I've got four packs of Bi-licious ready to go.
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jal_ut
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Planting this early your corn will likely take ten to fifteen days longer to mature than the advertised time. Corn seems to require so many heat units to mature, not just x number of days.

Are you looking for a large crop all at once? If not may I suggest planting only one packet now and another in ten days, etc. This will spread out your harvest.

Keep in mind its best to have 2 or 3 short rows than one long one for the sake of good pollination.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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TheWaterbug
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Thanks for the tips! Yes, the plan is 12" apart in rows, x 4 rows 36" apart. One large harvest is the goal, because we're going to have the 2nd Approximately-Annual Corn-U-Copia Party when it's ready.

I'll probably plant a short section (x 4 rows) as a "bellwether" crop a week or so ahead of the main crop so I'll have some advance warning and know when to schedule the party.
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TheWaterbug
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Well, I sowed one pack on 3/11/12 and 3 more packs this morning (4/12/12). Events kept conspiring against me and prevented me getting into the garden. I was also trying to time the harvest so that it wouldn't fall during my two trips out of town in June/July.

Then again I really have no idea how long this will take to mature since I've never planted this early. Last year I planted 5/21/11 and harvested 81 days later.

It would be ideal if this crop were ready on July 7 or July 8, which is 86 or 87 days out from today. Fingers crossed!
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jal_ut
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Excellent! I hope you will report back on this, I am really interested to see how it turns out for you.

Bi-licious is supposed to be a 78 day corn, add a few days for the early start and you may be just right. Good Luck!

How is the early planting doing? Did you get good germination?
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TheWaterbug
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jal_ut wrote:How is the early planting doing? Did you get good germination?
I got OK germination. I put 3 seeds in each site and planted ~25 places. Of the 25 sites I have 3 "holes" where nothing came up. Either that or it came up and something ate it (though last year nothing ate my corn).

In quite a few sites all 3 came up, so I may try to transplant a few when I get back into town next week. I know corn isn't supposed to transplant well, but last year I [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=218926#218926]transplanted 8 stalks[/url] when they were about ~6" tall and they all took.

I'm going to thin those triplets anyway, so there's not a lot of risk unless I damage the remaining plant when I pull the donor.
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jal_ut
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I have many times transplanted corn when it was about 2 or 3 inches tall. It has always been a worthwhile venture. The rate of success was very high. I use a butcher knife (instead of a trowel) and just try to dig it with some soil left on the roots, and without disturbing its mate too badly. You can be sure you will damage the roots some on the other plant, but at that age it will quickly recover. If you plunge the knife down between the plants, then move sidewise as you come up you can lift it with some soil intact on the roots. Oh, ya I should have said dig a hole to put it before you lift it. Put it in the hole, cover and water. Give it a try.
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TheWaterbug
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TheWaterbug wrote:Well, I sowed one pack on 3/11/12 and 3 more packs this morning (4/12/12)
I just back into town last night after a 9 day trip. All the new corn is up! It rained quite a bit right after I left, and then it got warm for about a week, which sounds about perfect to me.

Now I get to do all the weeding that I've deferred for the past month . . . .
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TheWaterbug
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Here's my March 11 corn:

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/ThinOrDontThin.jpg[/img]

I never got around to thinning it, and I'm now I'm not sure that I need to. It seems to be growing quite well, and although there's an assortment of singles, doubles, triples, and quads amongst this little stand, I don't see any correlation, positive or negative, between the height/health of the sparser vs. the denser plantings.

jal_ut, I know that you typically just let your corn grow, but IIRC you typically drop only 1-2 seeds per hole.

I've got drip watering going, and I just bought a fertilizer injector, so the real constraint on their growth should be space.
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TheWaterbug
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Here's my birthday (4/12 :D) corn:

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/CompanionOrCompetitor.jpg[/img]

That's a [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=251618#251618]volunteer pumpkin[/url] in the middle, and it emerged probably around 4/5 or so. I know I've got two of the Three Sisters in there, but it just seems like a plant that big is going to dominate everything around it.

As noted above they probably will have all the water they need, but will they crowd each other out?
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jal_ut
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I think the corn and squash will both do good. I have had squash growing in the corn patch before and both do well. Pumpkin, Squash? Doesn't matter what you call it..... same diff.

What sorts of squash did you have growing in the area last season? If you had zucchini or summer squash and pumpkins, this years fruit from the volunteer may produce a weird squash of some kind. They cross and the hybrid offspring never looks like any of the parents. I only bring this up because you may prefer to pull the volunteer if you had other squash in the area last year and would really like a pumpkin.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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TheWaterbug
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OK; I'll let him grow :)

It's a pumpkin, for sure. The whole field was pumpkins last year, except for some watermelons and cantaloupes which, IIRC, are too distantly related to cross.

But I am growing some cukes and zukes this year, and I may deliberately cross a few with the pumpkins so I can show my kid how it all works.

It's much easier to explain squash breeding than to explain why our neighbor's male Corgi is trying to hump the male Collie :D
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Tonio
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ol volunteer dilema eh? heh :D

I've got a volunteer kabocha or cantalope- I'm not sure yet. 1st female is about to flower, with a bunch of male flowers at the ready. Think the female will flower in the morning, and I'll try to aid in the pollination .
Anyone know how to tel the difference?

T
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TheWaterbug
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Is this the beginnings of an ear?

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/IsThatAnEar.jpg[/img]
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joed2323
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your corn is looking good ! i cant wait for my corn to emerge from the ground. Corn is my favorite crop to grow since its basically a meal.
keep us posted with your experience

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jal_ut
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I deliberately planted some seed from a Hubbard Squash I grew last season. We will see if it crossed with any of the squash and pumpkins I had last year. Even if it did I suspect it would still be a good eating squash. Have fun! Your corn is looking good.
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TheWaterbug wrote:Well, I sowed one pack on 3/11/12 and 3 more packs this morning (4/12/12).
My family ate the 3/11 corn while I was out of town between 6/15 and 7/4, or about 96 - 105 days from planting. They said it was good, but I didn't get to eat any myself.

We harvested the 4/12 corn for the Second Annual (?) Corn-U-Copia on 7/22:

Image

That was 101 days from planting, and the corn was a least a week past its prime :(

It was still good eating, but it was nothing like last year when people kept raving about it and going back down to the patch to pick some more.

So I'm guessing that the corn had peaked ~10 days earlier, perhaps on day 90 or so. I couldn't do the Corn-U-Copia the previous week because I was out of town.

I did sample some ears before and after that Day 90 weekend, and I never did taste any that was as good as the prior year. It went from being light but somewhat tasteless to being somewhat starchy, with no "sweet spot" in between.

Could this have been the result of the higher density? Or possibly the fertilizer (I used none last year)?

Of the 2-4 stalks that came up per planting site (I didn't thin this year), I probably got an average of slightly less than 2 full-sized ears per site (not per stalk). So my actual yield of edible corn was not much higher than it was when I thinned, when I got 1.5 ears per single, thinned stalk per planting site. I did get a _lot_ more green matter, but that doesn't help at harvest time!

Next year I'm going to thin and fertilize, and I'll see how things turns out.

I also had major corn earworm infestation this year, hence the cut-off tops of all the ears. I ran through the patch with a pair of loppers just before all the guests arrived for the harvest party, since I figured all these suburban kids would just freak out if they opened their corn and found wriggling caterpillars inside :D

I'm going to try the oilcan + BT next year.

I'll probably also do 3 plantings--one as a bellwether crop, one for the Corn-U-Copia, and one for afterwards.
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