Author Topic: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?  (Read 2681 times)

Offline 2paranoid

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Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« on: August 01, 2013, 04:49:48 AM »
I'm growing a patch of Cascade Ruby-Gold field corn from Carol Deppe's Fertile Valley Seeds, but it's looking a bit sickly. Compared to the fields of dairy cow feed corn nearby, which are a deep, rich green, my corn is a pale yellow-green, and a bit stunted looking. I suspect it's in need of nitrogen, corn being a heavy feeder.

I sprayed on an organic fish emulsion (2-4-1) at the recommended 1:128 dilution. That seemed to help a bit, but not much. I also side dressed with a mix of soil I scraped up from under a chicken run we used for three years plus mt own compost, and that helped too. But side dressing a stand of corn 4-6' tall is a bit difficult, and I suspect there's not a lot of nitrogen that's quickly bioavailable to the corn from that, so I'm looking for suggestions on a way to quickly get these plants back on track.

Any suggestions? Organic would be my preference, of course. Perhaps blood meal?

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 01:32:06 PM »
Blood meal would certainly be a great source of nitrogen.  Use it carefully, though, because it can burn roots or throw your N-P-K ratio way out of whack pretty easily if overapplied.

Another option, if you have lots of weeds or grass clippings, is to make a tea out of them.  Soak the clippings and weeds (if the weeds are large, chop them a little to break them up) in a barrel of water (use 5 to 10 times as much water as plant material, by volume) for 3-4 days, stirring once or twice a day.  Then strain out the plant dregs, dilute 1:1 with fresh water, and apply.  It's a great liquid fertilizer, and a great way to put your weeds to work for your garden.

Offline 2paranoid

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2013, 01:59:11 PM »
I guess I should add that the corn has tasseled already, and some plants have ears forming. Does that make it too late for added nitrogen to do much good?

Offline Skunkeye

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2013, 02:02:35 PM »
I'm not a corn expert, but if the plants are yellowing before the ears are mature, I think more nitrogen will still help.

Offline TheBippy

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 06:07:34 AM »
If you are cheap and don't take a lot of medications, one of the best fertilizers for corn is urine. Dilute it 10 to 1, or just pee on your corn and then water it a bit later if you're really lazy. There's some good information on urine as a high nitrogen fertalizer on the Journey to Forever site, one of the articles that talks about it is here: http://journeytoforever.org/garden_con-mexico.html

My husband has refused to pee on the corn, and I'm not allowed to pee on it, either. We have the most bizarre arguments.  ;D

There's also a book about using urine as fertilizer, but I haven't read it.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 09:35:15 AM »
And how cool was/is it? If it is too cold, often corn will 'yellow up', or get striped yellow leaves. This is the scientific explanation: "With cold temperatures, microbial conversion of organic nitrogen (N) compounds to inorganic N (ammonium and nitrate) is slow. If the corn plants are dependent on that source of plant available N, then plants could show N stress. Entire plants can show yellowing."

So my corn looks like this every year until we get sunshine.

So excluding disease, mineral take up, cold weather, ect,.. some varieties just are more pale green or yellow than other varieties.

Cedar

Offline 2paranoid

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 08:06:01 PM »
If you are cheap and don't take a lot of medications, one of the best fertilizers for corn is urine.

Well, I am cheap, and I have been known to pee into a batch of compost tea, but usually I save my private stock for use around the chicken coop to dissuade the foxes and raccoons from going shopping. A nice steak dinner to make me smell like the big, scary, alpha-male, apex predator I am, a big glass of water for sufficient volume, and a backwards-walking perimeter pee usually does the trick.

God, I'm glad I don't have any neighbors.

2p

Offline 2paranoid

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Re: Sickly corn - fertilizer options?
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 08:22:12 PM »
And how cool was/is it? If it is too cold, often corn will 'yellow up', or get striped yellow leaves. This is the scientific explanation: "With cold temperatures, microbial conversion of organic nitrogen (N) compounds to inorganic N (ammonium and nitrate) is slow. If the corn plants are dependent on that source of plant available N, then plants could show N stress. Entire plants can show yellowing."

So my corn looks like this every year until we get sunshine.

So excluding disease, mineral take up, cold weather, ect,.. some varieties just are more pale green or yellow than other varieties.

Cedar

It was definitely cooler than usual in New England this year - we had one screaming hot spell, but the summer was a long time coming and quick to leave. So that might be it. Plus, our solar aspect is a bit on the crummy side here - we're basically working in a forest clearing, so the sun doesn't hit the corn patch until maybe 9AM at the earliest even on the solstice.

The particular variety I tried this year was Carol Deppe's Cascade Ruby-Gold flint. Once I drenched the plot with fertilizer - compost tea, side dress of compost, fish emulsion, and beet-juice concentrate - it perked up considerably, at least in terms of greenness. But the plants were still pretty short and skinny, and the ears were stubby. Only one ear per stalk too.

The plot is drying down now, and I've taken a few ears off. The kernels are nice, even if there aren't that many. A little disappointing, but it was a learning experience. I can't do too much about the solar aspect, but next year, I'll till way more compost in before I plant, I'll plant the rows further apart - I planted 18" apart when I should have done 24" at least - and I'll make sure to add yet more nitrogen when the plants get about 6"-8" tall. And maybe get a little earlier start - if we don't get another Memorial Day frost next year.