We are growing sweet corn for the first time. I am concerned about pests, especially earworms, and how to protect my plants against them. We planted six 40-foot rows of the Peaches & Cream variety. What is the best way to have a successful crop out of our home garden, without those nasty worms?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Lisa: As with any vegetable in home gardens, it is important to provide the plants with optimal growing conditions. All plants are more susceptible to insect and disease problems when they are stressed from inadequate growing conditions. Sweet corn should be planted in a space where it will receive all-day sun. A minimum of six hours of direct light is ideal. Good air circulation, consistent moisture, and a nutrient-rich, well-drained soil is just as important. Each plant should be spaced at least a foot apart to allow for good air movement. Good cultural practice is the first step in harvesting a healthy crop. Weeding and keeping the space free of fallen plant debris is essential for reducing insect problems. Peaches & Cream is a good home garden variety of sweet corn. This bicolor hybrid is a reliable early producer. Corn earworms are a common problem but are not usually as frequently found on early plantings as they are with later plantings. Since this is the first year for your crop, you should not be too concerned about these pests. When growing vegetables we always want to be aware of the possible insect and disease problems, but the best prevention is a clean garden. Avoid using any harmful chemicals on your crop and if you notice something off, take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. For more information on growing corn and other vegetables in Kentucky, visit: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf