Corn is the most widely grown crop in the United States in terms of total production, with 96,000,000 acres of land reserved for it alone.
But what if you do not have 96 million acres of land but just your compact little home garden in Tennessee?
Well, don’t worry because this article will give you everything you need to know to plant and care for your corn crop, including when to plant corn in Tennessee.
Keep reading to find out more!
Corn is highly susceptible to frosts and cold temperatures, so ensure to check the weather and plant after the last frost of winter.
Otherwise, you risk your crop dying early on.
Avoid planting corn when cold or excessively wet conditions are expected. Corn crops should not experience temperatures below 50 degrees, so mid-April is the best time for sowing.
Corn grows best in the summer warmth, so another absolute best time to plant the seeds is mid-spring.
If you find yourself and your corn in a late frost, some measures can be taken to prevent failure.
- If you’re planting in pots, bring them inside.
- If your corn is in the ground, cover it with burlap or any black plastic cover to protect it from frost.
If you plant your corn too late in the year and they haven’t fully matured before the first frost, you may end up with small bitter corn as the ears wouldn’t have fully developed.
Keep track of your local weather to be sure of the first and last frosts of the season so you can plant corn at the perfect time.
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Now that you know when to plant corn in Tennessee, it is time to see how to plant it.
- Once the soil has warmed up to 60 degrees needed for seed germination, you can start preparing the soil for planting.
- Incorporate a generous amount of organic matter like compost and manure to enrich the soil with nutrients.
- Loosen up the soil to 6–8 inches deep.
- After preparing the soil, plant the seeds in rows 6 to 12 inches apart from each other.
- Plant them at a depth of 2 inches. Planting too shallow prevents root growth, while planting too deep may delay the emergence of plants from the ground.
- Make sure to water well after planting.
- You can also plant two to three seeds at every interval to guarantee germination at every given spot.
- If multiple seeds germinate, make sure to remove or trim off the extra ones after they emerge from the ground so there are only one every 12 inches, as planting too close to one another can cause stunted growth of plants.
- Corn is wind pollinated, so it is better to plant it in short, adjacent rows than fewer, longer rows to encourage cross-pollination. A block of 10–50 plants ensure robust pollination.
- To encourage pollination, gently shake the plant every week or so. That ensures that the plant releases enough pollen to the surroundings so pollination can occur.
- Also, you can plant sequentially to enable fresh harvest for longer periods.
That was all about how and when to plant corn in Tennessee. Now, let’s talk about how to care for the plant.
Here are some tips for caring for your corn in Tennessee.
Corn is a very drought-tolerant crop, but if you want increased production of good quality corn, make sure to irrigate your crops well.
Around 1–2 inches of water every week is recommended but adjust according to the weather conditions of your region.
Increase the supply of water if the soil is too sandy.
Watering at ground level is recommended as it prevents the possibility of washing away the pollen from the plants.
Weeds can become a problem for your crop growth if not appropriately tended. Corn crops are heavy feeders, so sharing the nutrients is not an option.
The first month is when you should pay special attention to weeds and kill any unwanted growth around the stalks.
Consider applying a natural mulch to prevent weed growth.
Pro Tip: Do not try to remove the ‘tillers’ that may appear low on the stalk. They do not adversely affect the growth of the plant. Instead, removing them can cause damage to the roots.
A nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer is recommended when the plant grows around 8 inches tall. A blood meal or a diluted fish-based fertilizer also works. Repeat when the plant grows up to 18–20 inches.
Some of the pests that your corn crop may find itself under attack by are corn earworms, European corn borers, cucumber beetle larvae, and seed-corn maggots.
Many measures can be taken to protect your corn from these invaders.
A mixture of vegetable oil, water, and dishwashing liquid can be administered on the tip of each ear to stop earworm infestation.
Sprinkling cayenne pepper around and on the leaves of the plants can also deter pests.
Use relevant pesticides if the issue remains.
Now that we have discussed how and when to plant corn in Tennessee and care for it, it’s time to harvest!
Related article: How to Tell When Sweet Corn Is Ready: A Beginner’s Guide
Harvesting corn is a super simple task.
- Usually, corn is mature 15–25 days after the silk starts to appear on the husks.
- A simple way to check for ripeness is to pull back the husk a little bit and pierce a kernel with your fingernail. If white milk-like liquid comes out of the kernel, it is at peak ripeness and tastes the best.
- It is preferred to harvest corn early in the morning when it is the freshest.
- To remove the corn from the plant, grab the stalk just below the ear and twist the tip of the ear until it breaks off the stalk.
- If there are multiple ears of corn on one plant, harvest the upper ear first, as the lower one takes 1–2 days more to reach peak ripeness.
If not consumed or processed immediately, the harvested corn can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5–7 days.
Store in a plastic bag unwashed and unpeeled to prevent drying out.
With that said, let’s head to the conclusion!
So, there it is, everything you need to know about how and when to plant corn in Tennessee and how to care for it.
With just a little bit of care and effort, you can grow your little corn garden and enjoy it periodically, either as a salad or on its own!
I hope that today’s article was of your help.
If so, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.