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What Are the Best Tips for Planting Maize Seeds?

Cindy Quarters
Cindy Quarters

Maize, commonly called corn, has been a domesticated crop for at least 4,000 years. Often referred to as a vegetable, maize is actually a type of grain. Seeds are available in a number of varieties including sweet corn, which is a popular garden staple, and the less common field corn. There are a few tips that can help when planting maize seeds, which include monitoring soil temperature, proper spacing and planting depth, and testing for good soil fertility.

Prior to planting maize seeds, soil should be treated with fertilizer to prepare for the best possible growing conditions. Nitrogen is particularly effective, so it’s important to test soil prior to planting to be certain it has enough to support plant growth. If necessary, nitrogen can also be added to soil once the plants have begun to grow.

Corn is a warm weather crop.
Corn is a warm weather crop.

Corn is a warm weather crop, so the plants will not grow until both soil and air temperatures are at sufficiently warm levels. Maize seeds should be planted once the weather heats up and is going to remain in the proper range, with daytime temperatures of about 70F (21C) and above. The soil temperature should be at least 60F (15.5C), and higher if the corn planted is one of the super sweet varieties. This helps them to germinate quickly and to produce strong, sturdy seedlings.

In areas that have short summers the garden can be covered with black plastic to help warm the soil. The maize seeds may be planted in holes poked through the plastic, and left in place until the plants are between 6 and 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) tall. The covering not only warms the soil and helps the plants get off to a good start, it also minimizes the threat to young plants posed by sprouting weeds by preventing the unwanted weed growth.

When planting maize seeds, it is important to space them so that there will be adequate room for the adult plants. The seeds should be planted in rows that are spaced about 3 feet (1 meter) apart. Within the rows the individual seeds tend to thrive the most when placed about 1 foot apart (about 0.3 m). Corn usually grows best if planted in several shorter rows rather than one long line, to allow for good pollination. Once the maize seeds are in the soil they should be covered with anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 inches (1.2 to 3.6 cm) of soil.

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    • Corn is a warm weather crop.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      Corn is a warm weather crop.