Problems Growing Sweet Corn

Written by shawna kennedy
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Problems Growing Sweet Corn
Growing corn in your home garden can be a rewarding, delicious experience. (corn in the field image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from Fotolia.com)

Home grown vegetables such as sweet corn taste better and usually have a higher percentage of vitamins if they are picked at the peak of ripeness and eaten the same day. There are three types of sweet corn categorised in relation to their sugar content: normal sugary, sugary enhanced and supersweet. As corn is pollinated by the wind, it's best to plant only one variety. Planting and growing sweet corn can be a rewarding experience, but there are a few problems associated with the endeavour.

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Root Rot

More common in cooler climates, root rot can attack your sweet corn's roots when the soil is cool and moist. According to Sweet Corn Growing Tips, improving the soil's drainage by adding compost before planting will help prevent this problem. Although mulch will help regulate the soil temperature, it also helps the soil retain moisture so use with caution.

Insects

Insects attack almost anything growing and corn is no exception. White grubs will attack from the soil and corn rootworm beetles will consume the silk on maturing cornstalk, adversely affecting pollination. Corn borers will bore into the stalks and weaken them, possibly causing the stalk to break. According to Sweet Corn Growing Tips, the larva of the corn borer is about 1 inch long and will eventually work its way into the corn cob, destroying your crop. Flea beetles will appear on your crop in the early spring. These beetles carry a virus called Stewart's bacterial wilt that will stunt the growth of your corn. According to the University of Georgia, aphids and cutworms can also attack your sweet corn. Pesticides are effective against all of these insects. Monitor your corn often so you can treat your plant at the first sign of infestation.

Birds

Although many varieties of birds will eat the insects attacking your sweet corn, birds such as crows are a common problem for corn farmers. According to Iowa State University, these birds usually begin feeding on your sweet corn right before it's ready to harvest. A flock of them can decimate a crop. A scarecrow may work to scare the crows away. Some farmers tape reflective tape or ribbon to the rows of corn to confuse the hungry birds.

Fungus

Corn smut is a fungus that attacks the corn cobs. This fungus will cause the corn kernels to swell and turn grey and then black. While this fungus is unattractive, in some cultures, according to Sweet Corn Growing tips, the fungus is considered a delicacy. This fungus can be removed by hand or you can spray your corn with a fungicide. According to the University of Georgia, removing infected ears of corn will help prevent the spread of this fungus.

Temperature

Extreme temperature can cause fewer kernels to form on your sweet corn cobs. This is especially true during the tasselling stage. This stage occurs about 80 days after planting and is when the corn develops silky filaments. Although the weather cannot be controlled, making sure your sweet corn crop has enough water during this time will help to counteract the effect of the weather.

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