This will vary based on the exact part of Florida you live in. Generally, the best time to plant corn is from August through April, but for northeast Florida, you will have to sow the seeds from February through April. January through April is great for central Florida, but within southern Florida, the period starts from October through March.
Florida is renowned as one of the best locations for growing corn as it has a suitable climate for planting corn. In Florida, you can grow different varieties of corn but they are known to be sensitive to frost. From seed to harvest, you need at least 90-120 days with no frost, depending on the variety you choose.
The best season to start spring planting is around the middle of April, although sweet corn is technically in season anywhere from October to June. If you sow your corn seed around mid-April, it will begin to silk and tassel around the first week of June.
This is around the general time when summer rains happen in Florida, and this will provide your plants with the life-giving water they require to flourish. It is recommended you add some mulch to ensure the roots don’t dry out. Also, consider starter fertilizer to give the emerging seedlings a boost.
Note that even gardening newbies will encounter little or no issues with planting corn. Corns are known to prefer full sun and rich soil. Florida-friendly varieties of corn are Silver Queen, How Sweet It Is, and Early Sunglow. Corn is usually ready for harvest between 60-90 days after planting.
Other Things to Consider When Planting Corn in Florida
Corn is noted as one of the best vegetables to grow in Florida, and only a few vegetables are as widely loved and as versatile as those golden ears. However, if you are looking to plant corn in Florida, here are key things to note;
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Be Careful When Picking Your Ideal Spot
When selecting a suitable spot in the garden, ensure that the spot has plenty of sunlight for your cornstalks. Aside from that, ensure that the soil has nutrients, and space to flourish. Take your time to locate a sunny patch that is well protected from the worst of the wind.
Corns tend to require lots of nitrogen, and experts believe that is around 20 or 30 lbs. of compost per 100 square feet of soil. Have it in mind that corn is best planted in an area at least 10 ft. x 10 ft., in a 3 x 3 block at a minimum.
Once you fail to provide your corn with enough space, it won’t pollinate or grow correctly. A general rule for planting corn, especially in the state of Florida, is the bigger the plot, the better. Ensure to plant the seed directly in the ground because it doesn’t transplant very well.
2. Ensure To Plant Your Corn Seeds Correctly
To ensure you plant and harvest the best corn possible, consider planting your seeds about 7 to 15 inches apart in the soil. While the most suitable time to plant is mid-April if you are going to sow your seeds early, remember to place them only about an inch down into the soil.
If you intend to begin your crop in midsummer, then you should be planting corn seeds about two inches deep in the earth. Since sweet plants are known to grow rapidly and require lots of space, plant the seeds in rows about five to six inches apart.
Corn is wind-pollinated, therefore, it is imperative you consider planting your rows into blocks that are at least three rows wide, which is the best for maximum pollination. Immediately healthy seedlings begin to emerge, thin the smaller, weaker plants until the strong ones are about one foot apart.
Consider Hand-Pollinating Your Sweet Corn Patch
Just as was noted above, corn is wind-pollinated, which means the wind has to blow the pollen off the tassels and get it onto the silks on the top of the ear. Owing to that, if you don’t have adequate space for a three-by-three block and have to plant in a single or double row, you can improve pollination by conducting it yourself.
To ensure you do it properly, watch closely for the silks to show themselves and for the tassels to open slightly, at which point the pollen is ready to be collected.
Take a wide bucket and place it under the tassels. Slowly and gently shake the stalk to release the pollen, and then promptly transfer it into a paper bag. At this point, you can carefully scatter it by hand onto all the other silks to ensure they are adequately pollinated.
Remember To Keep Pests Out Of Your Corn
No one would appreciate shucking corn and finding a squirming bug moving underneath the husk and the whole top end of the corn mushy and spoilt. Owing to that, you should take some steps to ensure that your corn is safe from pests. In times past, insecticides were the common and most effective method; however, things are changing and there are some organic options available now.
One of the best organic options to consider is to till the earth in your garden regularly and rotate your plants every season to guarantee nutrient absorption and prevent rootworms from taking up residence.
Also, consider placing a clothespin or rubber band at the top of the husk where the silk emerges to limit their access. You should also consider applying a few drops of mineral oil on the top of the ears before closing them off with the rubber band to suffocate any existing larvae.
Know The Right Time To Harvest Your Corn
Once your patch has grown fat ears of corn, you should avoid harvesting them before they are entirely ripe. Most often, it is advisable you wait about 20 days after the first showing of silk. The silk should be brown at this point, but the husk should still be green.
Also, note that each stalk should have one or two ears, but you should pick the bigger, more mature ears towards the top. Also, ensure you check the corn you are about to harvest to make sure it is in the “milk stage.” To do this, gently break the skin on a kernel with your thumbnail. If the inside is a milky color, it is good to go.
If it is clear, it is not ready to be picked just yet. If there is no liquid at all, then you waited too long to harvest, and the crop is now inedible.
When removing the ear from the stalk, get a firm grip, pull it downwards, and then give it another twist and pull. If it is mature, it should come off quickly and easily. Once you are done harvesting the ears, ensure to pull up the stalk entirely, cut it into pieces, and compost it while enjoying the fruit of your labor.
Florida is renowned as the largest producer of sweet corn in the United States, and those who stay in Florida should have no issues supplementing their garden with a patch. You should consider starting planting in mid-April and making a big block instead of long rows to increase pollination.
Don’t forget to water your plants regularly and add fertilizer to help the fresh seedlings. Generally, corns are quite easy to grow, and anybody can plant and harvest beautiful, fat ears with a little hard work.