sweet corn tasseling with the plants only about 2-4 feet tall

vstech(z7 Charlotte)June 20, 2005

I am a new gardener, my patch of corn used to be lawn below forest, and brambels. I skid steer removed the brambles and small trees, mulched for 3 years and finaly roto tilled the area to plant corn and other veggies this year. the problem is that the corn is only growing between 2 and 4 feet tall before tasseling and I am worried the plants will not produce viable ears. I did not fertilize very much, I thought mulching would take care of it.

is there anything I can do at this point? like an intense fertilization regime? I have heavy clay soil with about 50 worms per cubic foot, I thought this would be great for corn. and of course I am 100% organic. and the house was sold to me from the original owners of 60 years and they were 100% organic. please let me know what I should do, even if it is just for next year.

thanks!

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organica(7RichmondVA)

Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder and should be kept on a steady diet. It likes plenty of everything - fertilizer, water, sun. Go ahead and feed it now, but don't overdo it -- a garden is not an emergency room. I've harvested corn from short stalks - you shouldn't worry too much especially if you're just starting out. They don't all look like the corn you see growing on farms. I'm in your zone and I have the same thing happening. Some of my stalks were gnawed short by squirrels.

If you have the space, why not put in a second batch of corn right now? There's time. Look for something that will ripen quickly, or put in transplants.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 3:00PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Some early varieties of corn are rather short. I have one myself. So, if you planted a six to seven foot variety, you could have some deficiency of nutrients or sun.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 10:43PM
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Clare(z6 MO)

I've only grown corn a couple of times (too much competition with squirrels), but last year my corn was short like that when it started to tassel. I was concerned. But then it shot up quickly so that the ears were around shoulder height. I did not have to fertilize either time I grew corn. I just compost and mulch.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 6:39PM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

I get partial shade in morning on one end of the garden, and partial shade on the other end in the evening, so shade could be a factor in the short corn. I have also put in another patch of corn on the morning shade end of my garden. it is Sweet Red corn, so I am keeping it pretty well seperated from the sweet white that is tasseling short, I also spread about 1" of horse manure around each of the short tasselers and the newly planted red corn. I really appreciated the quick responses to my problem.
this forum is cool!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 11:03AM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Shading usually cause plants to elongate between leaf nodes (and be rather weakish) while sunlight keeps corn robust.

My Breeders Choice sweet corn started to show male tasseling when only 3-4 feet and continues to grow (now 5-6 feet) while releasing pollen. Last year I grew some white corn from 6-pack starts that were given by my local retail nursery. In some years such starts, when planted deeply into enriched soil, would yield nice crops. But last year the batch must have been too old and stressed because they started to tassel below two feet and finished off at 2-3-feet tall. Needless to say, the ears were pretty useless.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 11:44AM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

male tassels? are they the first ones? are they the top ones? I didn't know differance. thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 1:21PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Yeah, the tassels at the top contain male flowers while the silk coming out of leaf axils lead to female parts (your corn kernels of tommorow!). You often read or hear about planting corn in blocks rather than in a single long line. The block approach improves chances of pollination with the wind carrying pollen from the male flowers to the silk. But, heck, I've hand pollinated corn before where the stand of corn was too thin or too narrow.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 3:03PM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

ah, silks are female. ok I see thanks. I knew about male/female squash and the like, but I had no idea which was male / female on corn, thanks for the info. no silks have shown up yet, so the stalks may still grow taller and have room for a good amount of ears. my brother has inherited a nice soil 60 + year old garden, but his corn only grew about 1-2 feet and it already has tiny ears on it, so I shouldn't complain. I hope to have about 1000 - 1500 ears in my "little" garden. but I bet as short as theese plants are, they only produce around 4 -600, which is more than My little family can eat anyway. (hear me at the farmers market!!)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 3:24PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Modern sweet corn varieties produce one-to-three ears per plant, fewer if stressed by weather or lack of water or nutrients. How many plants are you growing?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 3:31PM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

about 350 or so my garden has about 8 rows with about 30 per row spaced about 1 foot apart plus I have the red corn patch that has 6 rows with about 12-20 per row. by your estimate I could have as many as 1050 or so if I get 3 ears per plant. I thought corn produced around 4-6 ears. anyway I will still have more corn than my little family can eat. only me, my wife, and my 8 year old daughter, and my 2 year old daughter. I have a very large cousin and brother/sister family nearby, so I am sure they will make use of the corn, Spagetti Squash, Pumpkin, Cukes and Tomatoes! the fall planting should do well too. thanks again,
John

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 4:06PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Warning! Warning!

Let's hope that the red corn patch flowers well after your sweet corn does so as to limit cross-pollination. This is particularly a problem with the super sweet varieties (SH2), less so for the sugar enhanced (SE+). Kernals of the former, if pollinated by the red corn, are likely to taste and chew like field corn.

You ought to plan on harvesting two good ears on the average from the sweet corn unless the varietal description tells you otherwise. I do grow a tall dent corn, Blue Clarage (Ohio Blue), that throws 4 or more ears. In the milk stage, the corn is yummy roasted in-husk and later makes a great corn meal/corn flour.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 5:49PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Marshall,

I see where you grow some Breeder's Choice [Burpees] corn. I raised that [yellow] for several years and it was very good. I saw that as time went on that more of the ears were larger grained and straight rowed [starchier] than previously when most were small grained and crowed together [very, very good].

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 10:56PM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

OK new info. now the corn is starting to silk, and one of the stalks has a HUGE colony of ants and they look like they are breeding Aphids. should I cut off the aphid infestid Male tassels or should I wash off the aphids with soap? and what is insectisidal soap? is normal dish soap and water the same thing?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 2:40PM
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stevo_in_socal

your sweet corn may be stunted due to nitrogen deficiency. Heavy clay is ALWAYS nitrogen deficient and badly so. Heavy clay is also full of P and K. Never fertilize a clay with a balanced fert. You typically want to go with a 24-0-0 because adding additional p and k can easily toxify the soil with an overabundance of the two. I used 5-1-1 fish emulsion and tripled the dose and it helped green up my sweet corn and other veggies as soon as i found out that I had clay soil which typically has no nitrogen. I then added a heavy dose of 24-0-0 ammonium nitrate, and it completed the greening of my garden. Before that, everything was pale and pathetic.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 6:50AM
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