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Corn Is Not Growing


We fertilized the field and planted corn. Only weeds are growing. Whats wrong?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Jan from Saratoga Springs, NY




Weed seeds are well adapted to surviving conditions that corn kernels are not, so it's no surprise you're able to grow a bumper crop, especially now that they have a shot of fertilizer. Here are a few possible reasons your corn seeds failed to germinate:

  1. Soil temperature. For successful germination a warm season crop like corn requires a soil temperature of 55° F at a 2-inch depth for three consecutive days. It germinates fastest in soil that's 68° to 86° F. Once the kernel is planted in an inch or two of soil, it should germinate in 5 to 12 days (depending on variety and soil temperature). When planting corn in the spring, keep in mind that wet, heavy soils have a tendency to stay colder longer than dry, loamy soils.

  2. Fertilizer burn. You didn't mention what type of fertilizer you applied, but using "fresh" hot animal manures (instead of non-composted or well-rotted manures) can actually create enough heat in the soil to burn your seed. The same can be said of using too much synthetic fertilizer.

  3. Moisture extremes. Too much or too little water can also affect germination. Seeds should be kept moist, but never wet. Dry seeds won't germinate and waterlogged seeds will quickly succumb to rot and mold.

  4. Poor seed viability. This can usually be avoided by purchasing high quality seed from the current year, and storing leftover seeds in a cool, dry place. To ensure the highest possible germination rates, corn seed should not be kept for more than 2-3 years.

  5. Animal pests. Birds, especially, can snatch up large-sized seeds like corn before they have a chance to sprout. Keep a watchful eye out, as birds tend to steal seeds without leaving much evidence.

  6. Seed Corn Maggots. These yellowish-white maggots hatch from eggs laid on the soil's surface. They can be most damaging during cool, wet weather because the larvae will hatch in temperatures as low as 40° F (4° C), which is much too low for planted kernels to germinate.


About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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June 17, 20080 found this helpful

Is it this years seed corn? If it's old it won't sprout. You are watering, aren't you? Maybe you need to wait a bit longer...dig up a seed or two and see if it's sprouting.

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