Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Corn Care (page 2 of 2)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Watering

Corn doesn't need more water than other vegetables. It just suffers more if the supply runs short. The plants are relatively tall and exposed to the wind and drying heat of summer, so they often "transpire" or give off moisture faster than their roots can take it up.

Corn's need for water is most critical from the time it tassels until the ears are ready for harvest. At this time, the plant is devoting all its energy to seed production, holding nothing in reserve for a dry spell.

During its growing season, corn needs at least an inch of water per week. If it has to go through a dry stretch, it may not produce well. Use a rain gauge to keep track of weekly rainfall. If your garden receives less than an inch of rain in a week, water.

When you water, water thoroughly. If you're using an overhead sprinkler, use your rain gauge to determine how long it takes to deliver an inch of water. Or, simply water until the soil feels moist three to five inches down, depending on your soil type. (Sandy soil absorbs water faster than clay.) One sign of too little water is the corn leaves curling or rolling. If you want healthy, sweet, well-filled ears, pay close attention to the weather at the tail end of the season and water if your corn needs it.

If you have the equipment, it's most efficient to water corn with a soaker or drip irrigation hose, or to use furrow irrigation. A soaker hose is made of a material such as perforated canvas that lets water seep out slowly. Drip irrigation has lines running straight to each plant that constantly drip a small amount of water to the roots. If you water directly from a hose or bucket into a furrow, it accomplishes the same beneficial watering at the base of the plant. With these watering methods, less water is lost to evaporation than if you use an overhead sprinkler. The water doesn't end up on the leaves of tall corn plants, instead it's near the roots where it's really needed.

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