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How to grow corn

How to grow corn

Corn, or maize, is a member of the grass family and is one of the most important crops in the world. It’s also easy to grow at home! Corn needs good conditions to thrive, but if you can provide them, it will reward you with juicy ears and lots of healthy kernels. Here are some tips for growing your own corn:

Know your climate

To get started, you need to know a few things about your climate. The USDA has a handy online tool that will help you determine your climate zone by entering in your zip code, city or state. Once you've determined your zone, use the following chart to learn about average rainfall and temperature for each of the four seasons (spring, summer/fall/winter).

Once you've identified which planting zones apply to you, it's time to get down to business. If corn was natively grown in your region, it would be planted directly into the ground after frost has passed—usually sometime between April and June depending on where you live.

Choose the right variety

It's important to choose the right variety for your climate, soil and drainage. For example, some varieties are better suited for dry climates than others. Your local extension agent or seed company should be able to help you select a corn variety that is well-suited for your area.

The best way to ensure good germination is by planting certified seed (this means it has been tested by an independent lab), which can be found at a local farm supply store or online through companies like Johnny's Selected Seeds.

Plant it in the right spot

Corn is a warm season crop, so it needs full sun. Corn also needs fertile soil to grow well. To prepare your soil for planting corn, mix in plenty of compost or manure before you plant and water it regularly throughout the growing season (every three days). If you live in an area that gets droughts during the summer months, make sure to water your corn well before they start to flower and set fruit so that they can go into their final growth stage strong and healthy.

Corn is not just used for food! You can use parts of the plant as animal feed or even as fuel if you have a wood-burning stove in winter time!

Start with healthy seeds

If you want to grow corn, it's important to start with healthy seeds. There are two basic ways that seeds can be unhealthy: they can be diseased and/or they can be genetically modified (GM).


A common way that plants get diseases is from other plants. If you buy your seeds from a big-box store or online retailer, there's a good chance those seeds were grown in large fields where other plants thrive and breed freely. These other plants could have diseases which then spread via their pollen or dust onto the new crop of corn seedlings being planted nearby.

This can make it difficult for market gardeners who need healthy crops so they don't have to spray chemicals on them later on down the road—and what affects one farmer's farm can affect others in their community as well! To avoid this issue entirely, many farmers opt not just for untreated corn but also certified organic varieties that haven't been exposed at all during growing season when these kinds of problems might arise (which means more work upfront but more peace of mind once harvest time rolls around).

Plant your corn early

Planting time is critical in corn. The best time to plant is early spring, if you have a choice. But you can also plant in late summer.

If you live in a northern climate, it's best to start your seeds indoors as early as possible and transplant them into the garden once all danger of frost has passed (when the soil temperature reaches 65°F). In southern regions where frost may never occur, plant directly into the ground when the soil is warm enough (about 50°F).

Thinning is necessary for big ears of corn

Thinning is necessary for big ears of corn. You should thin the plants so that they are 12 to 18 inches apart, allowing each plant to grow without competing with its neighbors. This will allow the leaves of each plant plenty of room, preventing them from touching each other and blocking out sunlight. Thinning also helps prevent overcrowding or "choke" in which there are too many stems on a single stalk; this can run down nutrients and water to the roots, resulting in smaller or fewer ears of corn and grainier kernels.

Pull out weeds as soon as you see them

Pull weeds early. Weeds are easiest to pull when they are young, so keep an eye on your corn plants and remove any weeds as soon as you see them. Pulling weeds when they are mature can damage the roots of your corn plants, especially if you use a hoe or shovel. Weeds also compete with the corn crop for nutrients and water, which can affect the growth of both crops. If left alone, many weeds will go to seed—meaning that next year there will be more of that particular weed growing in your garden!

Harvest at the correct time

Once you have your corn plant, it is time to harvest. Harvesting at the correct time will ensure that you get flavorful ears of corn and avoid getting tough kernels.

The best way to tell if your ear of corn is ready for harvesting is by looking at the silk—the part of the stem where silk emerges from each kernel. The silk will start out creamy white and turn brown as it dries up and falls off from the end of each ear when ready for harvest. If there are green leaves left on top of your stalks when this happens, then it means those ears aren't ready yet; wait another week or two before checking again!


Corn is a great crop to grow in your backyard. It can be a fun and educational experience for kids, but it’s also a rewarding crop to grow for adults. Corn has many uses from livestock feed to eating fresh off the cob.