Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 2 years ago
The question makes my head spin! Corn is utterly domesticated. I think that it cannot be called a natural crop by any customary use of the term "natural", unless the definition of natural includes the idea that humans are part of nature, and so therefore anything that humans do or have created is natural. I tend to adhere to that definition of natural, but some people shake their heads at me in disbelief.
Corn stover is coarse, and breaks down slowly... My customary practice is to incorporate it back into the soil, and then plant squash or beans after corn. Because the seeds are huge, and can grow around the left over stalks. And squash doesn't need much weeding. Lots of corn stalks left over from last year makes weeding difficult for small delicate plants. I typically plant squash or beans a month after corn, so that also gives the stalks an extra month to decompose before the next crop is planted.
I've never tried it. From my own short experience with growing corn, I see that it's a heavy feeder. Thus two good corn crops in a row may be difficult unless plenty of aged manure or compost is used in some fashion. Again based upon my own experience, using these amendments as top dressing will help, but much of the benefit is lost as compared to lightly incorporating them into the soil. Thus I lightly till in my soil amendments.
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I've grown it but semi-no till, using mulch and only on a small scale. You might want to try different varieties, blue hopi was not to fussy for me, nitrogen needs didn't seem to bad. I might try it again this year and may put chickens in there for weed control. If you could grow a ground cover that would die before you plant that would be cool. You're way down south, is there much corn grown in your area? I would think rice would be a more natural choice and if could flood, weed control would be a snap. Jeff
I think it's going to depend very much on your soil. Corn is such a heavy feeder that two crops in a row might be too much, and even if you have a cover crop in between you still have to manage that and it won't replace all the fertility you lost. To me you would be much better off rotating as others here suggest. I agree that bush beans make a nice following crop.
Personally I stopped growing corn because of the water and fertility requirements. I love eating it, just not dealing with it. Plus I might gross $1 / row foot, a fraction of any other crop.
I do not do no till with corn yet, but I am working towards it. Currently I am mixing several corn breeds to create a stronger hybrid that withstands stress. However I treat my field the same otherwise and reduce tilling to a small hole big enough for the 3 sisters to be planted in. My advice to you is if you try it expect 50% or greater losses if you don't have strong stock.
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