Can you grow corn in the fall in Texas?

Answered by Michael Wilson

You can grow corn in the fall in Texas. In fact, Texas is one of the top corn-producing states in the United States. However, there are a few factors to consider before planting corn in the fall.

Firstly, it is important to note that corn is a warm-season crop and requires a long growing season with ample sunlight and heat. In Texas, the fall season can still provide these conditions, especially in the southern parts of the state. The temperatures are generally warm enough for corn to thrive, and the days are still long enough to provide sufficient sunlight for growth.

However, it is crucial to keep in mind the average frost dates for your specific location in Texas. Frost can damage or kill young corn plants, so it is essential to wait until the risk of frost has passed before planting. As mentioned earlier, a general rule of thumb is to wait for at least two weeks without frost before planting corn. This allows the soil to warm up adequately and reduces the risk of frost damage.

To determine the average frost dates for your city in Texas, you can refer to the table provided earlier or check with your local agricultural extension office. They usually have detailed information on frost dates specific to your area. It is important to note that these dates are averages, and weather patterns can vary from year to year. Therefore, it is always a good idea to monitor the weather forecast and be prepared to protect your corn plants if unexpected frost is predicted.

When planting corn in the fall, it is also important to select the right variety. There are specific corn varieties known as “fall corn” or “late-season corn” that are better suited for planting in the fall. These varieties have a shorter maturity period, allowing them to reach maturity before the first frost of the season. It is advisable to choose a variety with a maturity period of around 80-90 days or less to ensure a successful harvest.

In terms of planting and care, the process is similar to planting corn in the spring. Prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris and amend it with organic matter if needed. Corn requires well-drained soil with a pH level between 5.8 and 7.0. It is recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and make any necessary adjustments.

Plant the corn seeds according to the recommended spacing for your chosen variety. Generally, corn seeds should be planted in rows with a spacing of around 30-36 inches between rows and 8-12 inches between individual plants. Plant the seeds at a depth of 1-1.5 inches and ensure good soil-to-seed contact.

After planting, it is important to provide regular irrigation to keep the soil evenly moist. Corn plants require consistent moisture throughout their growing season, especially during the critical pollination period. Adequate water supply will help ensure proper ear development and yield.

Weed control is also crucial during the fall growing season. Weeds can compete with corn plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Regularly remove weeds by hand or use appropriate herbicides, taking care not to damage the corn plants.

Additionally, consider applying a balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients to the corn plants. The specific fertilization requirements may vary depending on the soil test results and the stage of growth. It is recommended to consult with your local agricultural extension office for specific fertilization recommendations based on your soil conditions.

As the corn plants grow, monitor them for any signs of pests or diseases. Common pests that can affect corn include corn earworms, armyworms, and rootworms. Regular scouting and appropriate pest control measures can help mitigate potential damage.

Harvesting time for fall-planted corn will depend on the specific variety and the number of days to maturity. Harvest the ears when the kernels are fully formed and the husks have turned brown. To check for ripeness, peel back the husks and pierce a kernel with your thumbnail. If a milky substance is released, the corn is ready for harvest.

While it is possible to grow corn in the fall in Texas, it is essential to consider the average frost dates, choose appropriate varieties, and provide proper care throughout the growing season. By following these guidelines and monitoring the weather conditions, you can have a successful corn harvest in the fall.