With its creamy white or golden kernels, sweet corn, Zea mays, are available in farmers markets, grocery shops or your home garden starting in ancient to mid-summer, depending on the range. To grow the best corn, with tender kernels bursting with sweet taste, you want to keep your soil pH neutral and loamy.
Soil pH for Corn
The soil pH level for corn should be close to neutral or slightly acidic. This is the identical pH level recommended for most vegetables. According to the National Gardening Association, the recommended pH level is between 5.8 and 6.8, though a few other organizations advocate between 5.5 to 7. A pH of 7 is deemed neutral, and anything under 7 is slightly acidic. In general, corn is extremely adaptable, therefore it can tolerate a fairly wide pH range. Soil that’s a little acidic though, between 6 and 6.5, will provide the very best conditions for development.
The Importance of Soil pH
Soil pH levels are essential for a successful home garden because they affect the general grade of the soil. The pH level of soil affects how hospitable it’s to existence, like bacteria and other organic compounds. It is also important for determining the form and availability of nutrients in the soil. If your soil is acidic, certain minerals, such as zinc and copper, are soluble and available for plants to use and absorb. Soil that’s too acidic nevertheless, can result in mineral toxicity, where the soil is too high in minerals. Subsequently, alkaline soil tends to contain more bicarbonate ions, which can interfere with plant growth. Based on Penn State Extension, soil that is too acidic can cause stunted growth in corn crops.
Testing pH Levels
To ascertain the pH level of your soil, conduct a soil test. Utilizing a pH tester — or litmus paper, both of which can be found in garden and home supply stores — analyze a sample of dry dirt from the garden. To fix any imbalances, you can add alkaline chemicals like limestone to the ground. For soil that’s too basic — with a pH level above 7 — include acidic elements like pine needles or peat moss. In general however, to get your soil to the appropriate pH level, incorporate compost into your soil. Compost, along with the aeration necessary to blend it in, helps build soil structure and enriches the soil, helping create the rich, slightly acidic, nutrient-packed dirt that’s needed for corn to thrive.
Other Growing Concerns
In addition to obtaining the appropriate pH level for your soil, good soil structure — well-draining and loamy — is important for harvesting a successful harvest of corn. The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends mixing in compost or aged manure the autumn before your planting to make sure that your soil is in optimal condition for a spring planting. Since corn seeds don’t germinate in soil temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, start the corn indoors and transplant the seedlings once they are 4 inches tall. Plant the corn in blocks, and not rows, as blocks encourage wind pollination.