11 Corn-Growing Problems You Might Face

People have been rising corn for hundreds of years, and we aren’t stopping any time quickly. Nonetheless, rising corn efficiently requires data of widespread corn-growing issues.  

First, let’s briefly talk about a number of levels of how corn grows and matures. Numerous points will come up throughout every. Then, we’ll undergo 11 rising issues you would possibly encounter and the right way to keep away from them. 

Levels of Corn Progress

Corn vegetation produce each female and male flowers, which means they’ve a monoecious flowering behavior within the plant world. If one factor doesn’t go in accordance with plan when getting pollen from the male flowers to the feminine ones, correct pollination doesn’t happen, and issues begin to get slightly funky. 

Till the vegetative stage, when the corn seed is solely within the emergence stage, it solely makes use of vitality saved contained in the seed. 

Vegetative Levels

Ears and tassels develop, decrease leaves die, and pollen-loaded tassels mark the top of vegetative development.

As soon as a corn seed has emerged and has two totally developed true leaves, it depends on photosynthesis for its vitality and vitamins within the soil to proceed rising. 

Throughout this time, tillers begin forming, which seem like facet shoots close to the bottom of the plant and are the beginning of the plant’s central stalk. Ears and tassels start to type on the stalk, the primary true leaves wither away, and decrease leaves might die off.

No additional vegetative development will happen when the tassels are totally developed and prolonged. Leaves might proceed to develop, however no new ones will type. When silks start to emerge a number of days later, the plant has moved into reproductive levels. 

The vegetative levels of corn final for about 60 days, and development appears speedy throughout this time. 

Do you know? The phrase “Knee-high by the Fourth of July” refers to candy corn development and the right way to decide in case your crop is the place it needs to be for a wholesome harvest.

Reproductive Levels

Close-up of male cornflowers in a sunny garden. Сorn flowers are the reproductive structures of the plant and are grouped together in structures known as inflorescences. The male flowers are found on the tassel at the top of the plant.
Tassels launch pollen, which fertilizes ovules by means of the corn’s silks.

As talked about above, the primary signal of reproductive levels in corn is marked by the emergence of silks. The kernel quantity is decided at this level, however the plant should nonetheless be pollinated so correct kernel formation can happen. The plant is now shifting its give attention to persevering with the lifetime of the following technology of corn. 

Now, let’s speak in regards to the tassels atop the corn vegetation. They’re the male a part of the plant and comprise pollen when totally matured. When silks emerge, they catch pollen that falls from tassels, blows by within the wind, or is transferred by means of insect legs and wings. Inside the subsequent 24-36 hours, the pollen strikes down into the ovule (the feminine a part of the plant), the place pollination happens. 

That is the time of the corn flowers cycle when moisture ranges and vitamins are crucial. If silks don’t emerge on time or dry up because of low moisture ranges, they can’t seize pollen and transfer it into the ovule for pollination. 

Kernel Improvement and Plant Maturation 

Close-up of ripe corn cobs in a sunny garden. Corn cobs are large, elongated, cylindrical, with small yellow kernels arranged in rows. The corn plant has upright, strong stems with large, long, ribbon-like, dark green leaves with pointed tips and smooth edges.
If pollination is profitable and moisture is ample, kernels develop.

If correct pollination happens and moisture ranges are ample, the kernels will develop, filling with moisture and turning into candy and starchy. Kernels will harden and change from white to yellow. Silks will start to brown over about three weeks, alerting you that it’s time to reap. 

Professional tip: Presently, it’s best to shield your crop from critters who might need to get their fingers in your candy corn! Extra on how to take action a bit later.

Now that we’ve had a quick lesson on how corn grows and matures, let’s discover some corn-growing issues you would possibly encounter. 

Early Points

Poor Germination Fee On account of Seed Viability

Close-up of female hands planting corn seeds into the soil. Corn seeds are dry yellow corn kernels. There is also a rake and a cardboard bag of seeds on the ground.
Buy seeds from a good supply and test germination charges earlier than shopping for.

The primary corn-growing drawback is a doubtlessly low germination fee. In case your seed packet says the germination fee is 85% or above, however you’re experiencing a a lot decrease fee, this may be thought of a poor germination fee. 

Answer: Guarantee seeds are viable earlier than sowing. Do that by finishing a germination check. Place ten seeds on a moist paper towel, fold it in half, put them in a plastic baggie, and place in a protected, heat place, like atop the fridge. Wait a number of days, after which depend what number of seeds have germinated.

This gives you an estimate of your germination fee. Whereas this check doesn’t precisely depict the general germination fee of all of the seeds in your packet, having 9 out of 10 seeds germinate implies that 90% of these seeds efficiently germinated, indicating a excessive germination success fee.

Remember to buy your seeds from a good supply and test the germination charges earlier than ordering. In the US, the USDA has germination fee necessities that the majority dependable seed firms are required to satisfy on the time of sale; if they don’t meet or exceed these seed germination charges, a dependable vendor won’t promote that seed lot.

The older your seeds are, the decrease their germination fee could also be. Keep in mind, your seed is a dwelling factor; inside that seed coat is an embryonic plant. Whether it is saved for too lengthy, it would exhaust the endosperm of the seed (which acts because the plant’s preliminary meals supply) and can die off, making it unable to germinate. If you happen to’re making an attempt to germinate a packet of seeds that you just purchased three years in the past, their germination fee won’t be the identical because it was once you bought it!

Professional tip: If no seeds have germinated every week or two after the traditional germination time listed on the packet, toss them. They’re no good.

Poor Germination Fee On account of Rising Situations

Close-up of young corn sprouts in a sunny garden. The sprouts consist of short, strong stems with elongated, sword-shaped leaves with pointed tips. The leaves are smooth, dark green in color, covered with raindrops.
For direct sowing, make sure the soil is persistently at 50°F to keep away from dormancy, pests, and decay points.

Search for seen indicators of germination. In case your seeds have been viable however few vegetation germinated, the soil might have been overly chilly or damp. 

Answer: If you can begin seeds indoors or in a heated space, this will yield higher germination outcomes. If you happen to can solely direct sow in exterior soil, be certain the soil has reached 50° and stays at this temperature persistently. In any other case, the seed will lie dormant and will change into weak to pests, rot, or just not germinate. 

Leaf Points 

Leaves Rolling Inward

Closeup of corn leaves rolled inward. The leaves are large, elongated, blade-shaped, pale green. The edges of the leaves are curled inward.
Lack of moisture throughout speedy ear development could cause inward curling in leaf tissues.

Insufficient moisture ranges are one other corn-growing drawback. When ears are fashioned, development is speedy, requiring numerous constant moisture.

Remember to hold your eyes in your crop in any respect levels, however particularly in the course of the first 60 days, as a number of stuff is going on inside. Search for indicators the plant might offer you that one thing is amiss. 

Answer: Water closely and sometimes. When the soil is dry about 4 inches down, water once more. Closely mulching your corn vegetation will assist preserve moisture and is very beneficial. 

Pest Points


Close-up of Wireworms in black loose soil. Wireworms are slender, hard-bodied larvae of click beetles. They have elongated, cylindrical bodies that can range in color from reddish-brown to yellowish-brown. Their bodies are segmented and appear shiny.
Wireworms are reddish-brown, slender pests that feed on roots and seeds, typically damaging newly planted crops.

Pests are a standard corn-growing drawback. Wireworms are about ½ inch – two inches lengthy, hard-bodied, and really slender. They stand out within the soil because of their shiny reddish brown coloration and whipping physique actions. They’re the clicking beetle’s larvae, which is that this pest’s grownup life cycle. You’ve doubtless encountered each of them someplace alongside your gardening journey. 

Wireworms feed on the roots and seeds of newly seeded or transplanted crops. Wireworms might hole out the seeds when corn is straight sown, leading to no germination.

In any other case, they might feed on the roots and stems of younger corn vegetation, leading to poor efficiency or crop failure. They’re most typical in April-June, on the most important development levels of corn, and so they stick round longer in cool and moist soil situations, shifting deeper when temperatures heat up. 

Answer: Arrange a bait station about three weeks earlier than planting out your corn to find out the wireworm ranges within the soil and estimate your potential danger for loss. Do that by choosing 5 or so random check websites in your area. Bury a handful of untreated corn and wheat seeds about 6 inches down, cowl it with black plastic to heat the soil, and mark it with a flag for straightforward identification later. Earlier than transplanting the corn, dig up the seeds and see how a lot harm occurred. 

Seed therapy can be utilized if low populations are detected. There are additionally pre-plant pesticides. Nonetheless, be aware that there aren’t any therapy choices upon getting wireworms and there’s important harm. If you happen to replant a area when wireworms are nonetheless current, you’ll doubtless see the identical outcomes. 


Close-up of a Cutworm eating and destroying an ear of corn in a garden. The cutworm is a caterpillar-like pest with a cylindrical body in brownish-grey hues.
Cutworms are brown or grey soil-dwelling pests that chew by means of younger vegetation at evening.

If you happen to discover your younger vegetation merely falling over on the soil floor, you may be experiencing the harm of cutworms. These feisty monsters hibernate and conceal within the soil, are boring in coloration, usually brown or grey, and have small dots alongside their sides. They curl up once you disturb them, and the larvae can attain as much as two inches lengthy. 

Cutworms come out at evening and chew proper by means of the stems of vegetation on the soil floor, decapitating your valuable crops. Cutworm harm is usually discovered within the spring, as they wish to feed primarily on younger vegetation.

Professional tip: If direct sowing, begin a tray or two of seedlings indoors to switch any fallen prey to cutworms. If transplanting, save the extras for a similar cause and easily go alongside your plot and substitute any which have been misplaced.

Answer: Instantly kill cutworms should you see them in your soil. Nonetheless, take away all particles to forestall them from hanging out in your backyard. 

You may also place a barrier round your younger vegetation to maintain cutworms from reaching them. This might be a bodily barrier, corresponding to a rest room paper roll across the plant or a hoop of diatomaceous earth powder, espresso grounds, or egg shells. Remember to reapply after every rainfall. 

Moreover, you can interplant sage, tansy, and thyme, as these strong-scented herbs repel cutworms. 


Close-up of a blue jay eating ripe corn kernels in a garden. The blue jay is a brightly colored bird with bright blue plumage on its wings and back, a white belly and a characteristic crest on its head. The corn cob is elongated, has yellow kernels arranged in rows.
Use insect netting, reflective gadgets, or scare techniques like scare tape and scarecrows to discourage birds.

If you happen to conquer the pests, native wildlife is the following potential corn-growing drawback. Birds love younger corn vegetation and will swoop in and snatch them proper out of the bottom when vegetation are simply rising or newly transplanted. Corn is without doubt one of the crow’s favourite issues to snack on, so be careful for them. 

Answer: Insect netting can be utilized to guard younger, weak vegetation. Simply make sure to hoop and canopy quickly after germination should you straight sow or proper after your transplant. You may also use scare tape, reflective gadgets corresponding to pinwheels, or submit up a scarecrow to provide them a run for his or her cash, er, corn.

Raccoons and Different Critters

Close-up of a raccoon eating a ripe ear of corn in the garden. The raccoon is a medium-sized mammal known for its distinctive appearance, including black eye markings and bushy, ringed tails. The raccoon has a greyish-brown fur coat, pointed muzzle and dexterous forepaws resembling hands. The cob consists of a central core to which juicy yellow kernels are attached.
Corn ripens rapidly, attracting raccoons, deer, and turkeys.

Corn goes from being virtually able to prepared in a short time, and also you is probably not the one one ready for the right time to reap. In some way, raccoons, deer, and even wild turkeys know when candy corn is ripe and may destroy an entire crop in a single day or in a daytime cross by. 

Answer: Raccoons come out and wreak havoc at evening and spook simply by people and loud noises. Just a few issues which will scare them off: 

  • Strive hanging tin pans from a tall submit within the floor close to your corn and permit them to blow round within the wind. Wind chimes work as nicely. 
  • Plug a radio in close by and play it in a single day. Change the radio station typically so it doesn’t change into simply background noise to the animals you hope to discourage. 
  • Sprinkle blood meal round your corn plot. They’ll assume a predator is lurking close by and may keep away from the world. 
  • Movement-activated lights or sound. 
  • Make a DIY deterrent by mixing cayenne pepper and blended garlic right into a gallon of water and a teaspoon of cleaning soap. Spray or pour round your plot. Cinnamon can also be believed to confuse raccoons’ sense of odor, so you can attempt including that to the combo or sprinkling it on or round your vegetation. 
  • If all else fails, you possibly can set up a brief electrical fence when your corn is about to ripen—no must have it on in the course of the earlier levels. 


Northern Leaf Corn Blight

Close-up of corn leaves affected by Northern Leaf Corn Blight. The leaves are large, elongated, blade-shaped, dark green. The leaves have affected areas in the form of dry brown stripes.
This fungus favors heat temperatures and humidity and causes lesions on leaves.

Northern Leaf Corn Blight (NLCB) is attributable to the fungus Setosphaeria turcicum (synonym Exserohilum turcicum), which favors temperatures between 65-80° and excessive humidity ranges, making it one of many most important ailments hanging corn in states like Florida within the spring and throughout the Midwest in mid-late summer season. 

Lesions attributable to NLCB are grey to brown, might be as much as six inches lengthy, and may seem water-soaked. The spots start on decrease husk leaves first, work their manner up, and darken when the fungus is sporulating. The size, measurement, and coloration of the spots rely upon the variability and age of the corn. Vital loss can happen if this illness is contracted earlier than the corn silks. 

There are lots of kinds of scrumptious corn varieties to select from. Strive rising ‘Honey and Cream’ candy corn for a scrumptious possibility proof against widespread rust and Northern leaf blight. 

Southern Leaf Corn Blight

Close-up of a corn leaf affected by Southern Leaf Corn Blight. The leaf is large, long, ribbon-like. bright green. The surface of the leaf is smooth, covered with many irregular small markings of pale green and brownish hues.
This blight is attributable to a warm-temperature-loving fungus that damages younger seedlings.

Southern Leaf Corn Blight (SLCB) is attributable to the fungus Bipolaris maydis, which favors hotter temperatures between 68-90°. States like Georgia and Florida often encounter SLCB within the fall. 

Signs of SLCB embrace small yellow halos surrounding as much as one-inch lesions and may destroy younger seedlings if not caught in time.

Answer: Strobilurin and sterol-inhibiting fungicides can be utilized preventatively however will solely be efficient if utilized when the time is correct, earlier than excessive an infection. Illness-resistant varieties exist, and deep tillage may work for prevention. If you happen to apply no-till strategies, at the very least a two-year crop rotation plan is beneficial.

Basic Plant Points

Small Ears 

Close-up of a corncob with the husk removed, in a sunny garden. The corn plant produces an elongated cob that has small yellow kernels arranged in rows. The top half of the cob has small, immature kernels due to lack of nutrients.
If small ears type regardless of wholesome stalks, nutrient deficiency may be the difficulty.

In case your stalks look wholesome however the ears being produced are all comparatively small, they might not have had the vitamins they wanted to type proper-sized ears. 

Answer: House corn vegetation 9 to 12 inches aside in a row of two per selection to permit for correct pollination. Any lower than 9 inches won’t permit them to develop outward sufficient, obtain ample airflow, or trigger them to run quick on vitamins when it comes time to mature the corn ears. 

Professional tip: Strive including a well-balanced fertilizer alongside your corn plot a few month after they’re transplanted and once more mid-season to make sure they’ve what they should type good, full cobs.

Incomplete or Delayed Silk Emergence

Close-up of a woman's hand checking the silk of young corncobs in the garden. The silk of the corn plant is a long, filamentous, pale green structure that emerges from the tips of the cobs.
Incomplete silk emergence may result from low moisture ranges, resulting in poor pollination.

This may not sound like an enormous deal, however the corn plant transitions into reproductive levels when the silks emerge from the husks. Every silk represents a feminine flower of the plant. Every one being pollinated results in a kernel of corn.

The most typical incidence that may trigger incomplete silk emergence is extreme drought situations. Silks are extremely delicate to moisture ranges as a result of they want the very best water content material of every other corn plant tissue. When low moisture ranges are current, silks emerge extra slowly or fail to take action in any respect. 

If “silking” is delayed too lengthy or fails to occur in any respect, little pollination or none in any respect happens as a result of most or all the pollen has already been shed, resulting in an underdeveloped corn cob that gives few or no kernels, often known as blanks.  

Answer: Water usually and mulch closely to carry in that moisture. 

Ideas For Success

Close-up of ripe corn cobs in a corn field. The plant has strong upright stems with large, long, blade-shaped leaves. The cobs are elongated, cylindrical in shape, consisting of many bright yellow-orange kernels attached in rows. The husk is dry, brown, hanging down at the base of the ears.
Examine corn cobs for ripe kernels when silks brown and leaves dry up.

Corn performs finest when grown in well-draining soil filled with natural matter that receives full solar. It’s going to carry out finest when planted in blocks or quick rows of 4 spaced 15 inches aside.

Block planting works finest because of its capacity to pollinate others within the block because of their proximity to one another. Pollen can simply drift over to a corn buddy when the wind blows. Likewise, when bees discover your block, they’ll fly from one corn plant to the following simply.

Delay planting till the soil temperature is at the very least 62-65°. Don’t rush it! Beginning corn indoors is beneficial for a head begin or throughout a cool spring. Mulch vegetation closely and water 1-2 inches per week.

Facet dressing with composted manure or a normal fertilizer is a good suggestion, as corn is a heavy feeder. This may be completed a few month after being transplanted, and they’re nicely established, and once more once you see tassels begin to type. They want ample vitamins to provide wholesome, stunning corn cobs. 

Begin checking the information of your corn cobs for totally fashioned kernels about three weeks after you begin seeing silks. The leaves will dry up, and the silks will brown when corn is ripe. The juice from a kernel needs to be milky white when ripe and able to be harvested. 

Professional tip: When you have an abundance of recent corn and may’t probably eat any extra, attempt slicing it off the cob and freezing it on a cookie sheet. As soon as utterly frozen, retailer them in a freezer-safe bag for as much as 12 months. Use it in soups, chowders, and dips all winter lengthy.

Ultimate Ideas

There may be nothing like homegrown, candy corn recent off the stalk, so it’s completely price rising. Simply pay attention to these points which may come up, plan accordingly, and get pleasure from recent corn all season lengthy! 

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