Corn seeds are the kernels off of a cob of corn. Corn silks sticking out of the ears of corn are the female flower of the plant and each piece of silk if pollinated will become one kernel of corn.
There are something like 1,000 pieces of silk on each cob of corn and there usually ends up being about 600 kernels on an average cob.
So, from each ear of corn we get something like 600 corn seeds to plant! Corn has been domesticated for over 10,000 years and a lot of effort has gone into making it the plant we know today.
Should You Soak Corn Seeds Before Planting?
You do not need to soak corn seeds before planting them. The point of soaking corn seeds is to increase germination rates and speed up the germination process.
If the seeds you are using are good then the main factors that will influence both of these things is soil temperature and availability of moisture.
The optimum temperature for corn seeds to germinate at is 85 degrees. The minimum temperatures is 50 degrees and waiting until soil temperatures reach above 60 degrees to plant corn is good gardening practice.
Generally, corn seeds germinate faster in warmer soil temperatures and slower in cool soil temperatures. The longer seeds sit in soil without sprouting the higher the chance for poor germination rates.
Use a soil thermometer to test the soil temperature at a time around 9-11AM to get an average temperature.
If you’re worried about the corn seeds you have germinating sprout them inside with the paper towel method. This method is popular and you can find videos or better instructions out there.
Basically you put the seeds in between moist paper towels in a ziploc bag in a warm area and they will sprout in 2-3 days. If it sprouts through the paper towel it’s not a problem just rip the piece of paper towel with the sprout and plant it like that.
Farmers have crop insurance and the insurance company will set a date for specific areas that farmers should not plant before. If farmers wait until that date and then plant the insurance will cover the cost of replanting the corn seed if it does need to be replanted.
The main things that would cause a field to be replanted are cold temperatures or heavy rainfalls.
If farmers have to wait too late in the season to plant they will lose some their yield per acre for their corn fields and may have to buy a different variety of corn seed that matures faster.
Should You Water Corn Seeds After Planting?
Yes you should water corn seeds after planting them and up until they sprout. Moisture is essential for germination. It activates catalysts within the seed that start the germination process.
Watering the seeds right after planting provides them with moisture and helps to set them in place where you planted them. Continue to water the seeds in the dirt until they sprout so they have the moisture they need to do so.
Do not leave the seeds in a puddle because that’s too much moisture! Check the dirt and when it feels like it’s starting to dry out water again.
Check out “Corn Growing Tips & Plant Care” for corn growing tips including how often to water corn in the garden.
How Many Corn Seeds To Plant Per Hole?
Plant one corn seed per hole. Corn seeds should be planted every 3″ and then thinned down to every 6″ after they’ve sprouted and reached 4″ tall or so.
Corn seeds are a medium size seed that will germinate fine if planted in the same hole but if both seeds germinate you’ll definitely need to thin one.
Instead plant the seeds in their own holes with tighter spacing between holes if you’re worried about germination rates. To save time take a tool and make a line 1.5″ deep where you want the row of corn and drop as many seeds as you like along the line.
How Deep To Plant Corn Seeds
Plant corn seeds 1.5″-2″ deep. According to an article from the University of Missouri planting corn too shallow can be a problem. Corn planted too shallow has trouble developing a good root system.
Poor root systems can lead to corn plants with slow early growth or plants that don’t handle drought stress well later in the season.
The article also says sandy soil can take corn seeds being planted 3″ deep. Most gardeners have loamy soil and planting corn seeds 1.5″-2″ deep will be perfect.
How To Plant Corn Seeds In Pots
Give corn plants at least 3 gallons of dirt per plant. Use containers that are at least 12″ deep and if you’re using something from around the house for a pot make sure to make drainage holes at the bottom.
Keep the plants 6″ apart in the container. Make 2-3 holes in each spot that you want a corn plant and then thin down to one plant in each spot when they reach 4″ or so tall.
Planting in shapes is an easy way to keep good spacing. In a 10 gallon pot with three corn plants plant them in a triangle. For bigger containers and more plants you can plant in diamond, pentagon, hexagon, etc.
How To Plant Corn Seeds In Raised Beds
In a raised bed you can plant corn seeds in rows or just have corn plants be 6″ apart in all directions. This is a tight spacing that is in line with intensive gardening practices for corn. Corn plants may produce smaller ears than corn spaced further apart but it will give a good overall yield.
How To Plant Corn Seeds In Starter Trays
Corn is not normally started inside but to do so plant corn seeds in starter trays. Use a pen to make holes about 1″ deep and then cover with soil and lightly tamp it down.
Water starter trays from the bottom. To do this fill another flat tray with 1/4″ of water and set the tray or starter pots in the tray with the water. After about 30 minutes the water should have wicked its way up to the top of the soil.
Once you feel that the top of the soil is wet pitch the remaining water in the tray. Get a good idea for how heavy the tray feels when it’s completely dry and watered to have an idea of when you need to water again.
Comment below with your own thoughts or experiences with planting corn seeds.