Suckers Growing on Corn Plants

Corn is an easy-to-grow harvest if the plants have a sunny place and fertile ground. This warm-season crop creates ears of sweet kernels that rapidly lose their natural sugars and yummy taste after harvest. Corn tastes best when cooked within one-half hour after selecting. Freezing ears of corn also helps the vegetable retain its new flavor. Sweet corn frequently develops suckers while growing, and these unwanted shoots confuse some gardeners as they are not sure whether to eliminate them.

Why Suckers Boost

Suckers are extra shoots or growths on cornstalks that frequently appear on plants that are spaced away. They may also develop as a result of plant damage; when the primary hinge is damaged, a sucker can develop and really thrive, forming an edible ear. However, most suckers do not create ears or develop to maturity. Corn stalks may also develop suckers when they receive excess nutrients.

Good or Bad

Suckers are not bad or good. Some gardeners imply that suckers can decrease yield only because they compete with the major stalk for water and nutrients. Generally, however, the main stock wins out for nutrients against the sucker, so they have little effect on plant yield. Spacing corn plants closer together can cut the number of suckers because it reduces the amount of excess nutrients.

Removing Suckers

Farmers once believed suckers were bad for corn plants, but that no longer is the case. There is no requirement to remove suckers. Actually, removing shoots that are 12 inches or more in length can weaken the plant and stunt growth, because the shoots can supply nutrients to the main stalk when needed. Sucker removal may also open an entry way for disease. Weakened stalks and disease can reduce corn yield.

Other Factors

Suckering occurs more often in corn plants that are transplanted into plastic mulch. There are also insects, disease and viruses that may lead to excessive suckers to grow. The growth of suckers also depends upon corn variety; not all kinds of corn develop the extra shoots. Although removing the bigger suckers can negatively influence the plants, eliminating small suckers can make the harvest easier to scrutinize and cultivate and will not harm the plant.

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