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2nd crop sweet corn is "off to the races"

 
pollinator
Posts: 337
Location: Illinois, Zone 6b
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So, an interesting thing is happening to my 2nd sweet corn crop of the year, and I think it's due to the hot hot weather we've had this summer (heat units satisfied).  I expected a wide range of maturity from these plants since they are a thorough mix of varieties & DTM.  However, with plenty of heavy rain, I already have tasseling & silks on the majority of plants much earlier than anticipated.

Another observation of note, is that there are aphids on the tops of many of the tallest/fastest growing stalks.  I didn't have this problem with the early planting, and suspected I'd run into different pests at different times of the year.  The good news is, ants, lady bugs, beetles, spiders, etc. are keeping them in check!

Anyone else have aphids on corn?
 
steward
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We have never had a problem with aphids on corn though we have found that we have more of a problem when plants are stressed from hot weather.

Those ants are probably farming the aphids:



https://permies.com/wiki/ants-and-aphids
 
Cy Cobb
pollinator
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I've never seen aphids on sweet corn plants either, and didn't know ants "farmed" aphids.  I'll have to look into that.

There has been good water, but intense heat.  The plants look pretty healthy otherwise, just aphids on the tassels which I've not seen before.  It is definitely a pattern with so many plants having them.  I don't think it will hurt the yield too much, but this crop will be primarily a seed crop for my "mix" anyway, so we'll see what comes of it.  Probably 20% of the crop has tasseled/hanging anthers, & maybe another 60% is just starting to protrude from the top of the shorter (later) plants, but still all closed up.  So, with any luck, I'll get better pollination in the next week or so.
 
Cy Cobb
pollinator
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Location: Illinois, Zone 6b
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Upon closer inspection,  I do believe the ants were farming the aphids. I blasted a few tassels with the hose on jet & that cleared most off for now,  but I know they'll be back. There are lady bugs, but not near enough.
 
Cy Cobb
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Location: Illinois, Zone 6b
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Aphid update:

If you recall, I had an aphid infestation on some of my 2nd crop sweet corn tassels.  I learned that aphids secrete a sticky sweet substance which sticks to the plant & attracts ants to the area.  I'm not sure exactly why attracting the ants is beneficial to the aphids, but the ants get a good meal out of the substance anyway.  I did have lady bugs & an assortment of other beetles feeding on the aphids, just not a lot of them.  Upon the discovery of aphids, I did blast them off some of the plants with a high pressure stream of water which did remove the majority of the aphids & the sticky substance that was on the tassels.  I'm glad I did this, because I later found out that the sticky substance can actually create mold problems & I needed that pollen for my corn silks.

I checked on the corn today, & it is entirely aphid free, sticky substance free, mold free, & doing great.  The tassels have attracted about a dozen sweat bees per plant.  I wonder what that relationship is about?  Are they there for pollen, did they eat the aphids, or is it simply a convenient perch to rest?
 
Cy Cobb
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Hey folks, I just thought I'd post an update on my 2nd crop of sweet corn this year.  I harvested it a week ago to give my watermelons a fighting chance at finishing strong (fingers crossed).  

Overall, there were many varieties in this crop, and they cross pollinated very well.  I ended up picking most of it too late for fresh eating since I was mainly growing for seed this time around.  90% of the corn seed was mature, and is drying nicely.  I still had some earworm damage, but not as bad as the first crop.  I'm planning to segregate the seed into different batches to grow out & explore the results based on type.  

Now to decide what mixes to plant next year...  
 
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World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set. Gardening with an excavator.
richsoil.com/wdg


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