Corn is a popular summer crop throughout Virginia. Though you can buy corn cobs in the state from summer until late fall, nothing beats the sweetness of freshly harvested corn that has not yet converted to starch.
If you’re going to plant corn in VA, note that April 1 to May 15 and June 1 to July 3 are the best time for sowing. For more tips on when to plant corn in Virginia, read below.
Table of Contents
- Best Time to Plant Corn in Virginia
- Varieties of Corn to Plant in Virginia
- Tips for Planting, Caring for, and Harvesting Corn in Virginia
- Factors That Affect the Optimal Time to Plant Corn in Virginia
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time to Plant Corn in Virginia
1. Plant in spring from April to May
Corn doesn’t grow well under freezing conditions and will incur damage if temperatures reach 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Therefore, it is vital to plant corn seeds in warm weather when there is no frost.
The soil should measure 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of sowing, with sweeter varieties requiring more heat to grow.
And because Virginia’s last frost ranges from April 5 to May 15 on average, a sowing in April and May makes sense. Below are the frost estimates for some regions in the state you can refer to.
|Location||Last frost||First frost|
|Abingdon||April 28||October 15|
|Danville||April 15||October 27|
|Falls Church||April 16||October 25|
|Norfolk||March 30||November 11|
|Virginia Beach||April 3||November 7|
2. How late is too late to plant corn in Virginia?
The latest time to plant sweet corn in Virginia is often July, and it is best to pick varieties that mature quickly so that you can harvest your crops before the first frost comes in October or November.
On the whole, corn will finish growing in 63 to 100 days, and harvest often ends in September and October for zone 7 and lower, while zone 8’s season can extend until early November.
3. Can I plant corn indoors?
It is best to direct-sow corn and avoid transplanting it, since this crop’s roots are sensitive to changes in growing conditions. But if you want to garden indoors, you can sow seeds two weeks before the last frost and move them outside after.
Use cell trays and potting soil for planting, and sow up to two or three seeds per cell only.
4. Planting time in different areas
Below is Virginia planting time for different hardiness zones within the state, or zone 5a to zone 8a.
|Hardiness zone||Planting time|
|Zone 5||May 1 to July 20|
|Zone 6a||April 25 to July 15|
|Zone 6b||April 15 to July 15|
|Zone 7a||April 5 to July 25|
|Zone 7b||March 25 to August 5|
|Zone 8a||March 15 to August 15|
Varieties of Corn to Plant in Virginia
Corn varieties are classifiable into three categories based on their sweetness. From the least to most sugary, we have standard, sugar-enhanced, and supersweet corn.
Sugar-enhanced and supersweet types should be isolated from one another if you plant both, and the same applies to standard and supersweet corn.
Below are some varieties that grow well in Virginia and their attributes.
|Standard||Silver Queen||Resistant to Maize dwarf mosaic virus. Tender and creamy.|
|Jubilee||Resistant to Maize dwarf mosaic virus. Excellent for freezing, processing, and fresh consumption.|
|Merit||Resistant to bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. Versatile like Jubilee corn.|
|Sugar-enhanced||Bodacious||Resistant to rust and Stewart’s wilt. Creamy and sweet.|
|Kandy Korn||Resistant to the cold. Tender and juicy with great freezing potential.|
|Delectable||Resistant to Northern leaf blight and rust. For fresh consumption and late-season planting.|
|Supersweet||Honey and Pearl||Resistant to Northern and Southern leaf blight. Tender and sweet with short maturation time (78 days).|
|Obsession||Resistant to Northern corn leaf blight and Stewart’s wilt. Bicolor and stores well.|
|Summer Sweet 7210R||Resistant to Northern corn leaf blight and common rust. Ideal for the fresh market.|
Tips for Planting, Caring for, and Harvesting Corn in Virginia
1. Plant and care tips
Sow corn seeds at a depth of 0.5 or 1.5 inches, depending on whether you have damp or dry soil. Plant spacing should be 24 to 36 inches apart between rows and six to twelve inches apart between seedlings (or 15 to 30 in planting distance cm).
As for how many corn seeds per hole are ideal, you can put up to three seeds in each hole and remove less healthy sprouts once they appear.
Make sure to opt for loamy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 6.8 when picking what type of soil to grow corn in. Just as importantly, care for the plant by fertilizing the ground with a 10-10-10 formula before sowing, then give your corn more nitrogen once it is 12 inches tall.
Growers should conduct a soil test and follow its recommendations, since too much nitrogen can cause corn seedlings to flop over.
Corn plants also require an inch of moisture per week and six to eight hours of full sun per day.
2. How to harvest corn
Your corn is ready if the silk is brown, dry to the touch, and easy to pull off. Another sign a plant is harvestable is if the corn ear feels plump and full with a slight amount of give, and the tip of the plant is round instead of pointy.
To be sure, you can pry away some of the outer husk on a cob and prick a kernel. The plant is harvestable if a milky substance comes out. A clear liquid means the corn is not yet mature, while a lack of any fluid indicates an overripe plant.
Suppose it’s time to harvest your crop—simply pull the corn ear downwards until it detaches from the stalk, then refrigerate immediately at 32℉ to keep the corn sweet until you can eat it.
Factors That Affect the Optimal Time to Plant Corn in Virginia
Your frost dates and chosen variety clearly influence the time for planting, considering that corn requires frost-free weather to grow and mature.
And while that’s pretty much all you need to worry about in most cases, it’s a different story if you want to grow several corn types simultaneously.
Corn varieties should be 250 to 300 feet apart if they vary in sweetness levels, but if your garden doesn’t have enough space, it’s necessary to wait two weeks after one variety has matured before growing another.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should you not plant corn?
Do not plant corn if the soil is under 50℉. Under this condition, the seeds won’t germinate and will be more susceptible to disease or might be eaten by animals.
Similarly, temperatures of 85 to 95℉ may bring higher risks of drought and reduced pollination. So, late summer is not a suitable time for planting.
How long does it take for corn to fully grow?
Corn takes 63 to 100 days to grow, depending on the variety. Kandy Korn requires 89 days, for example, while Bodacious cobs need only 75 days.
Knowing when to plant corn in Virginia is essential to producing healthy, tasty kernels for cooking at home.
Whether you’re a first-time gardener or someone experienced in growing vegetables, we hope you found this article helpful. Simply time your seeding right, and it will be possible to harvest corn from June through October.
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