When to Plant Corn in California

When to Plant Corn in California

TLDR: 

Best time to plant corn in Ca : March to July

Corn also known as Zea Mays is one of the common crops planted in South America and California. There are four main production areas in this state:

  • South Coast
  • Central Valley
  • Desert Valleys in the south
  • The Central Coast areas

Corn is a warm weather crop, regardless if it is sweet corn, glass gem corn or any kind of corn seeds you’re growing. March to July is the planting season for corns. This is true to Southern California as well. …While the harvest time is in July to October. There is an extended time to harvest corn is from November to December.

Planting corn (zea mays) is not that difficult when you have the right knowledge and tools.

Do you want to learn how to plant corn? How about sweet corn?

You’re in the right spot because this article will teach you all about the best practices for planting corn seedlings.

What are the essentials for growing corn in your backyard?

baby corn

To be master gardeners of growing corns, you need to be patient in planting. You also need to have proper knowledge and fertile soil since that helps you grow corn. Check if you have a moist soil and then choose the right corn seeds. Take note, corn plant is a heavy feeder, so you need to add fertilizers on top for extra nourishment.

Here are other items you need to know for corn growing in your home garden.

  • 18,000 to 30,000 corn seeds per acre of land
  • The bed width is 30 to 60 inches apart and there are one to two rows inside
  • Plant spacing between rows is 7 to 10 inches apart
  • Corn planted to a depth of 3/4 to 2 inches
  • The ideal temperature that corn grows is between 65 degrees Fahrenheit and higher

What Soil Type Is Good for Planting Corn?

loam soil

For planting young seedlings, a sandy soil is recommended since it can quickly heat up. Once the corn plant grows and mature, it can be transferred to a heavier soil. The ideal planting time is in summer because it is warm. There must be proper irrigation for the mature corn plants to foster growth.

Irrigation System for Corn

watering corn plants

Besides planting them in rows, you can plant corn in blocks and bury them 3 to 4 rows deep. Your corn plant also needs irrigation. In the US, most cornfields have drip lines buried for irrigation. These drip lines are buried 6 to 8 inches underground.

Corn that is planted in the Summer requires more water than those in Spring. You must be aware of your soil temperature to hit greatest growth. It must be between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the types of corn plants?

There are corn varieties and each has its respective traits. It is one of the important crops in the Southern part of America and in Mexico. By knowing each one, you will have a better idea of what to plant for the summer in your backyard.

Popcorn

popcorn

This type of corn crop is like flint corn. It has a hard but brittle kernel, and the color is translucent. When you heat this up, the pressure built inside makes its kernel pop out. The outcome is a white starch material that’s delicious to eat.

Flour Corn

Flour Corn

This type is softer than flint but not sweeter than sweet corn. It has low sugar content because most are converted to starch. You can eat it even at its immature stage because of its soft texture. These corn ears are abundant in the southwest of America. Despite its lack of sweetness, its soft texture makes it a valuable crop.

You can barbeque or steam this corn ear for eating. You get lots of fibers from this corn plant. This is also used for producing corn oatmeal.

Flint Corn

flint corn

This one has a hard kernel, from which it got its name. When heated, it still pops but the outcome is not like popcorns. It still produces the starch white material but is not as sweet as sweet corn. Because of its hard kernel, it is more resistant to pests. It is also used as coarse cornmeal in restaurants.

Sweet Corn

sweet corn

This is a sugar enhanced variety of corn that is manmade. It can be eaten fresh from its cob during its milky white stage. It has a sweet and juicy taste because its sugars are not all converted to starch. These are super sweet varieties of corn that most people love. You can also see the sweetness variety of a corn through their seed packet.

Its young corn plants are white in color and turn yellow through time. Besides eating it raw, you can also steam or grill it. The sweetness of this corn ear is impressive and loved by many.

What are the varieties of Sweet Corn?

Sweet corn have different types as well. These varieties are standard endosperm, sugar enhanced, and super sweet. The standard endosperm is the regular sweet corn. While the other two are supersweet corn varieties.

For the standard endosperm, there are two subtypes: Jubilee and Silver Queen. These types are not that sweet than the sugar enhanced and the super sweet corn varieties.

Dent

Dent corn

This is corn ear is mainly used for producing animal feeds and ethanol. There are many growers of this plant corn in America because of its steady demand in the market. Its kernel is hard with a low sugar content. Because it’s rich in starch, it’s use for making cornmeals.

This corn type got its name because it has dents as it dries out. There is a large dent formation in the kernel as it dries.

Corn Pollination

corn tassels

You can grow good corn plants through cross pollination. The corn pollen falls and then it is carried by the wind. The corn silks are wind pollinated and stops growing. You can also manually cross pollinate corn earworm from different varieties. But, the common situation is that corn is wind pollinated. Wind is an effective agent for good pollination among corns.

Besides sweet corn, there is also the Painted Mountain. It is a new variant that has good resistance against the cold. You can eat this during its young stage. It also has a sweet taste and soft texture.

In contrast, some people want to have a single variety of corn per year. There’s no problem with that since you can always this scenario.

How To Avoid Cross Pollination of Corn?

pollination corn tassels

There are also instances where you need to avoid cross pollination. It is best if you plant one type of corn plant per year. This is to control the quality of your harvest. Here are some ways for you to do it:

Proper Distance

A distance of 100 feet is enough to prevent cross pollination. You can also place some fence to border your plants from your neighbor’s plants.

Proper Timing

Planting early and late season varieties is another way to do this. You can plant corn at an interval of 3 to 4 weeks. This helps prevent mixing pollens from different corn variety.

Fertilization

applying fertilizers to corn

Corn is a heavy feeder, so you need to fertilize them before and at the later time of its growth. The recommended is 200 pounds of Nitrogen per acre of land in the early spring planting time. Then 100 pounds of Nitrogen per acre of land in the later season.

Some gardeners apply 30 pounds of Nitrogen per acre of land for growing corn. The remaining is placed around the plant.

Pest Management

corn earworms

You can reduce corn earworms entering corn silks by spraying chemicals to your plant. Or, you can do mechanical cultivation and sanitation to prevent infestation. This is encouraged to all to help reduce the use of chemical based pest management.

Applying herbicide and insecticide is also a continuing practice among gardeners. That’s because of its proven effectiveness in eliminating corn earworms. You need to follow instructions to avoid overdosing your plant with chemicals.

Harvesting

harvesting corn

In California, handpicking is still a practice for harvesting mature plants. This takes time but there is less damage to the cob. If you want efficiency, you can use mechanical pickers to pick corn. The setback is a higher chance of damaging your harvest.

The average harvest in California is around 350 to 500 boxes of corn. Each box contains 48 corns and it is shipped to various parts of the US. All corns for shipment are packed in 50-pound boxes. They underwent quality assurance to meet their demands.

To preserve its sweetness, you need to store your harvest at a cool temperature. In that way, you are slowing down the conversion of sugar to starch.

The success growing corn depends on different factors. You need to have the proper knowledge and desire to plant and grow corn.

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