I'm in Michigan. This summer I planted my first corn crop. When the stalks were about 4 feet tall about half of them toppled over, apparently because they were planted too shallow. I hoed the soil between the rows up around the roots and straightened them I also tied them up using strings tied to the fence. After a couple of weeks the strings were removed and I had no more trouble with them falling.
The stalks reached a height of 6-7 feet. As I only had 4 rows of about 15 feet each, I shook the tassels to help in pollination. Don't know if it was necessary but it seemed to work.
In checking for doneness of the ears I peeled the shucks back a bit and mostly the kernels looked real good. Some were not ripe. Then I read that I just needed to wait for the hair to turn brown and dry out. Well, it turned brown but it never seemed to dry out. I also had some infestation from little round beetles. Not to many but enough to worry me for a while.
The finished corn was wonderful. I was raised to eat corn with butter and salt. Never cared for it. Now I eat it plain and I love it. I even ate some fresh off the stalk. I didn't even know you could do that.
How much soil do I need on top of the underlying clay? I currently have about 4 inches.
What are those beetles? Where do they come from and how to I stop them?
How to I know when the corn has reached full ripeness?
Hi! Congrats on your first corn crop! I am in Ohio and I've grown several varieties in small quantities. The toppling over thing is something I attribute to bad breeding. All my store-bought seed result in toppled corn. My saved "Indian corn" seed rarely topples. I peek at my corn while on the stock by peeling back the shucks a little. That lets me see how I'm doing on pollination, what diseases are a potential issue, and know if the kernels ready. If they are plump and soft enough to burst with my fingernail, then I figure I can eat it fresh. If it's harder than that, I know it's going to be saved seed or ground up for corn meal. As for the little beetles, do you have a photo? If not, try googling corn beetle and see if you can find what you're looking for. There's lots of things that like eating corn besides humans. Generally if you see a pest once though, you'll see them again.
I can't comment on the beetles as I haven't had that issue here but I can tell you that my corn had no issues standing all season long in 6"-7" of top soil over very heavy clay. I use a garden fork to aerate the clay a bit before planting, which probably helps the roots get down a bit deeper. As for ripeness, I grew a popping corn variety so the ears stayed on the stalks until the plant was pretty much dead but I've been told that with sweet corn when the silks start to turn brown and you can pop a kernel with your fingernail and see a white milky juice come out then the corn is ready to eat.
One way to help with weak stalks, if the variety you like tends to have them, is to plant the corn in "hills", that is, in clusters of 3 or 4 seeds together, and then leave 3 or 4 feet between each cluster. When the stalks act like they want to tip over, tie them together at the top, so it sort of makes a tripod or tipi, and is much more stable. This is a classic pattern for using intercrops with it ala "Three Sisters", too.
I've always planted my corn seeds about 1/2 inch deeper than the package says to, we get lots of sun and heat with high humidity (I also usually do the "native way of planting a fish first then plant the corn seeds, 3 -4 seeds per fish), this makes the corn plant roots start off deeper in the soil and the fish provides the nutrients for the heavy feeding corn.
If your silks are turning brown but not drying out, it could be not enough spacing that is holding moisture close to the silks and thus keeping them moist. Generally though when the silks turn brown they will also look rather shriveled and when that happens you are ok to harvest the ears.
Dry silks can be thought of as hardened kernel husk evidence, the ears are fully developed and ready for drying at that stage.
Wolf likes tender, sweet corn so we harvest once the silks have shriveled up some, we don't worry about kernels from top to bottom, if the tip hasn't developed it does make a good handle for on the cob eating.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:I've always planted my corn seeds about 1/2 inch deeper than the package says to, we get lots of sun and heat with high humidity (I also usually do the "native way of planting a fish first then plant the corn seeds, 3 -4 seeds per fish), this makes the corn plant roots start off deeper in the soil and the fish provides the nutrients for the heavy feeding corn.
Redhawk, I've read about several different ways of planting with fish but I'm curious to know how you do it with corn. Bury the fish 12-18" deep, cover with soil and plant corn as usual above?
permaculture is giving a gift to your future self. After reading this tiny ad: