If I wanted to plant a medium sized plot of corn (40' by 40') and I planted some dent corn for chickens, some popcorn for market and some sweet corn for market all in that same plot, would they play nice together? I know corn needs a lot of pollination. Do the three types of corn pollinate one another? Would they affect the popping of the popcorn or the sweetness of the sweet corn? Or is that only an issue if I save seeds for the next generation?
What other down sides might there be to putting them all together?
In the first growing season, The popcorn and the dent corn will mess with the sweet corn, so that it gets hard kernels. The dent corn will mess with the popcorn so that it doesn't pop. (Isolated kernels are affected, not all of them on the cob.) That can be mostly avoided by planting the crops so that the flowering times don't overlap. A two week separation of flowering times (on inbred varieties) is about right.
Thanks guys! So it does sound like they'll cross and that it would be an issue for the corn I harvest this summer/fall. Not an issue for the chickens but it would be for the popping and the sweet eating. Ok, I'll either try to manage their flowering times or just do one variety this year to try it out.
They will readily cross if they are in bloom at the same time. If you are saving your own seed and want to maintain specific varieties you can stagger your planting enough to avoid having two different varieties blooming at once. I used to plant my sweet corn side by side with my field corn. The sweet corn was an f1 hybrid that I did not want crossing with my family heirloom field corn. I would plant my sweet corn about three weeks before my field corn. They would both bloom at different times and I would not get any cross pollination between varieties.