There’s nothing like the sweet taste of fresh, homegrown sweet corn. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, sweet corn can be a great addition to your garden. But just how long does sweet corn take to grow? In this article, we’ll explore the different stages of sweet corn growth and share some tips for when to harvest.
What is Sweet Corn?
Sweet corn (Zea mays) is a type of corn that’s harvested at a young, immature stage. Unlike other varieties of corn, sweet corn is eaten as a vegetable rather than as a grain. Sweet corn is known for its tender, juicy kernels and its high sugar content, which gives it its distinctive taste.
The Stages of Sweet Corn Growth
Sweet corn goes through several stages of growth before it’s ready to be harvested. Here are the four main stages:
The first stage of sweet corn growth is germination. This is when the seed begins to grow into a plant. Germination usually takes between 7 and 10 days. During this time, the seed needs moisture, warmth and sunlight to sprout.
After the seed has sprouted, the plant enters the vegetative stage. During this stage, the plant grows its leaves and stems. This stage can last anywhere from 20 to 50 days and is crucial to the development of the plant. It’s important to keep the plant well-watered and fertilized during this time.
Tasseling is the third stage of sweet corn growth. This is when the plant develops a long stalk with male flowers that produce pollen. This typically occurs around 60 days after planting.
Ears and Silking
Finally, sweet corn enters the ear and silking stage. This is when the plant produces its cobs and the female flowers (or silks) emerge. The silks will eventually become the corn’s kernels. At this stage, it’s important to keep the plant well-watered and to watch for pests like corn earworms.
How Long Does It Take for Sweet Corn to Grow?
From planting to harvest, sweet corn takes around 60 to 100 days to grow. The exact time will depend on factors like the variety of sweet corn, the weather conditions, and the location of the garden.
Days to Germination
Germination is the first stage of sweet corn growth, and it usually takes between 7 and 10 days. During this period, the seed needs moisture, warmth, and sunlight to sprout.
Days to Vegetative Stage
The vegetative stage is when the plant grows its leaves and stems. This stage can last anywhere from 20 to 50 days and is crucial to the development of the plant. During this time, it’s important to keep the plant well-watered and fertilized.
Days to Tasseling
Tasseling usually occurs around 60 days after planting. This is when the plant develops a long stalk with male flowers that produce pollen.
Days to Ears and Silking
The ear and silking stage is when the plant produces its cobs and the female flowers (or silks) emerge. This stage typically occurs around 70 to 80 days after planting. It’s important to keep the plant well-watered and to watch for pests like corn earworms at this stage.
When Should You Harvest Sweet Corn?
Knowing when to harvest sweet corn is crucial for getting the best quality cobs. Here are some signs that your sweet corn is ready to be harvested:
- The silks at the top of the ear have turned brown and dried up
- The kernels are plump and milky when you puncture them
- The ear feels full and rounded rather than flat and narrow
It’s best to harvest sweet corn in the early morning when the cobs are still cool. This will help maintain their sweetness and flavor. Once you’ve harvested your sweet corn, it’s important to eat or cook it as soon as possible to enjoy the best flavor.
Common Questions About Sweet Corn Growth
How long does it take for sweet corn to grow?
Sweet corn takes around 60 to 100 days to grow from planting to harvest.
When should I plant sweet corn?
You should plant sweet corn in the late spring or early summer, after the last frost.
How often should I water my sweet corn?
You should water your sweet corn at least once a week, or more often if the weather is hot and dry.
What pests should I watch out for when growing sweet corn?
You should watch out for pests like corn earworms, aphids, and Japanese beetles when growing sweet corn.
With a little patience and care, you can grow your own delicious sweet corn. By understanding the different stages of sweet corn growth and knowing when to harvest, you can enjoy the sweet taste of homegrown corn all summer long.