I would like to raise sweet corn that is very early, and the corn plants only get 5-6 feet tall.
We have rough grass there now, and it will also get 5-6 feet tall, which means that it will compete severely with the corn. And, because I would like to sell the sweet corn I want the corn to be completely filled out and handsome, and that means that the corn will have to be well developed and not struggling.
I had thought that I could till twice in the spring to possibly kill or cripple the grass, and broadcast clover seed or something. But, isn't clover a warm season plant? I suspect that the rough grass, which is a cool season grass, will grow all over it.
Lastly, just to make things complicated, I am within city limits. Tall corn is specifically allowed but tall weeds are not. And, yes, the neighbors are the type to complain if the violation is obvious. Clover is a short plant and should be legal, especially when surrounded by corn which would help to hide it if it gets over the 1 foot tall allowance for weeds. Tall grass, on the other hand..... If the grass grows over the corn I think I will be ordered to cut it.
I've heard of people planting corn in rows with a green manure crop at it's feet. Plant the corn just like you described and once the weeds start to come back (corn should be a foot or so tall), run them down with a wheel hoe or however you weed big areas. Then broadcast the clover. The clover get's a foothold and smothers the weeds. Harvest the corn when ready and leave the clover to work it's magic.
With this, timing is everything. Eliot Coleman has it outlined in one of his books. "four season harvest" maybe.
I have not been able to grow corn without corn earworms coming along. My answer is just to cut off the end where the worms are.
Most consumers around here are down on gmos and pesticides so the presence of worms is almost a selling point, if explained properly. People are turned off by actually seeing wiggling things in their food though, so it's more labor intensive to check each ear
I would raise your corn in a polyculture with beans and squash. It is a very good system, invented by people far wiser than me. There seems to be a pest reduction aspect to this polyculture, as I have much less squash bug and corn worm problems than my neighbors who grow in monoculture. The beans end up getting a bit lost in the jungle, but still produce a crop.
Growing corn for market is challenging. The yields per space area are relatively low, so I do not grow any corn in my market garden. I would have to sell corn for a couple dollars an ear for it to even begin to compete with my other crops.
I had a similar setting for my corn patch last year, a spot of years old deeply established grass. The good news is that corn is very vigorous and ultimatley out competed the smaller grasses. The bad news was that corn is such a demanding feeder, that the competition from the existing grass reduced the productivity of the corn yield.
Corn needs perfect fertility. Not just the NPK, but all the traces are critical as well. Boron, in particular, is necessary to complete tip fill of the corn ears. I have found that without high boron levels, I get more corn worms and earwigs, due to incomplete tip fill. So if growing for market, I would look at foliar feeding to ensure a constant supply of micronutrients to the corn plants.
Corn is my favorite plant to grow. It is just a wonder of botany and human innovation. good luck!
I have had good results with preventing corn worms by putting a few drops of mineral oil on the corn silks: 2-3 treatments seem to do the trick. I could never do that with a really big planting, but then I an thinking about something of at most a quarter acre or so. It is faily simple to go up a row of corn and drip oil on the silks as I go.
Well its all about tomatoes here. I raise some corn for friends snd family, but i cant grow corn customer's want, for what customers are willing to pay. If folks were willing to pay, it might be worth it, but honestly the store bought stuff is tasty and cheap. People here dont care sbout the poison it came from.
I also do all heirloom, and while i like it, not everyone does.
Mick, what varietal of heirloom sweet corn do you like to grow?
I have played around with a few, grew a new one named Anasazi last year and am completely enamored. Definitely wouldnt be what customers would like, but like you have found, corn for me is better grown for the family and other crops for market.