How Long Does It Take To Grow Corn? (And What Influences It)

Corn is both a rewarding and delicious crop to add to your garden. It is easy to grow and requires very little maintenance. Corn grows relatively quickly, but if for some reason yours isn’t, you may want to do a little troubleshooting to help your corn reach its potential. So how long does it really take to grow corn? 

It typically takes corn anywhere from 60 to 100 days to grow from planting to harvest. However, there are a lot of factors that will affect how your corn grows. These include temperature, soil temperature, water, sunlight, fertilizer, climate, and corn variety. 

In this article, we’ll talk about how long it takes corn to grow, from germination to harvest. We’ll also look at a variety of factors that can influence how quickly and how well your corn germinates. In most cases, we’re talking about sweet corn since that is what the typical home grower will have access to and plant in their garden. 

How Long Does It Take Corn to Germinate and Grow?

When corn is planted under ideal growing conditions, it will typically take anywhere from 10 to 14 days to germinate and poke through the soil. Most varieties of corn will take anywhere from 60 to 100 days to grow from planting to harvest. 

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The growing conditions in your garden will have a large effect on how quickly your corn grows. 

Air and Soil Temperature Affect Corn Growth 

The ideal soil temperature for sweet corn to germinate is between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 to 30°C). It can germinate as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10°C), but lower temperatures will slow and even prevent germination, so be sure not to plant your corn too early in the year. 

For example, at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5°C), corn can germinate in 10 to 14 days, but at 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.5 °C), it may take up to 22 days. 

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Soil temperatures are usually five to ten degrees cooler than the air temperature, and it takes longer for the soil temperature to warm than it does for the air. It may take several days of temperatures over 6o degrees (15.5 °C) to get the soil warm enough to plant. 

Water Is a Critical Part of Corn Growth

Corn needs plenty of water to grow well, and if it doesn’t have enough, its growth will be stunted. 

First, corn needs moisture to germinate. If the soil is too dry early on, the seeds won’t germinate at all. If there is too much moisture, the seeds won’t germinate, either. You need to have well-draining soil. You can mix in plenty of aged compost or manure into your soil to help it drain better, which will keep your seeds from rotting. 

Your corn will need anywhere from an inch to an inch and a half of water per week to grow well. If you don’t receive this much rainfall, you may need to water or irrigate your plants. And if they don’t receive enough water, they will either have poor growth or drop developing ears to conserve moisture. 

The Best Soil for Corn Growth 

Corn needs lightweight, well-draining loamy soil. Mixing in compost and aged manure can help lighten up heavy soils. Lighter soil will also warm up faster in the early spring, making your seeds germinate better. 

If you have heavy rains early in the season after you’ve planted, but before your corn has germinated, the top of the soil can form a hard crust. If the soil crust is too hard, the germinated seeds won’t be able to break through. You may need to gently break up the top layer of soil to allow your seeds to grow. 

How Much Sunlight Does Corn Need for Growth?  

Corn needs full sun for growth. Full sun means 10 hours a day of direct sun rays. If corn receives less than 8 hours of sunlight per day, the growth will be slower, and the corn won’t grow as large or have as many ears to harvest. 

The Best Spacing to Optimize Corn Growth

Corn needs to be pollinated by the wind, so corn plants need to be planted in blocks rather than in long rows. In addition, they need to be far enough apart to receive adequate sunlight but close enough that they can be easily pollinated. If the plants are too close together and overshadow each other, they won’t receive enough sunlight to grow properly.  

You’ll want to consider planting seeds 8 to 18 inches apart, with rows about two feet apart, in blocks of 6 to 8 rows. 

How Does Fertilizer Impact Corn Growth? 

Corn can be considered a heavy feeder, and it will need some fertilizer if you don’t have rich, fertile soil. You can help your corn get off to the right start by mixed in plenty of aged manure and compost to the soil before you plant. This will improve the moisture content of the soil and the nutrient density of the soil. Later, you can sidedress the corn with additional compost and manure. 

If you are using synthetic fertilizer, you’ll want to use 25 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 1000 square feet of corn. You may want to sidedress with nitrogen fertilizer when the corn reaches about 15 to 18 inches high.

The Ideal Climate For Corn Growth

Corn grows quickly under the following conditions: 

  • Warm, sunny weather between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit (24 and 30°C)
  • Moderate rain or irrigation 
  • 130 or more days without frost

These conditions will help your corn grow quickly and heartily. 

Choosing the Best Corn Variety for Quicker Growth

Certain varieties of corn will grow more quickly than others. There are a number of varieties that grow more quickly, but be careful about planting different kinds of corn too close together. This could result in corn that tastes starchy rather than sweet. 

TypeGrowth in ideal conditionsCharacteristics
Catalyst XR66 dayssweet corn with bicolor kernels
Swetnesssynergistic68 dayssweet corn with bicolor kernels
Earlivee58 dayslarge, bright yellow kernels
Seneca Horizon65 dayslarge, yellow-colored corn
Precocious66 days (SE variety)yellow-colored corn
Spring Treat67 days (SE variety)yellow-colored corn

Weeds Can Slow Corn Growth 

Unfortunately, weeds can slow down the growth of your corn. Broad-leaf weeds, such as lambsquarter, purslane, and grasses, such as quackgrass and crabgrass, can compete with your corn for the nutrients and moisture it needs. 

Landscaping cloth and mulch can cut down on weed growth. You also can gently hoe around your corn to pull out small weeds. 

Pests Can Stop Corn from Growing 

Some pests may try to eat your corn before it grows, such as wireworms and earworms. Even birds, squirrels, mice, and chickens can eat germinating corn seeds. You may want to protect your corn while it is germinating with netting or screen. Once the shoots begin to break through the soil, you can remove the netting. 

Final Thoughts 

Corn is typically an easy-to-grow crop, however, it does need adequate soil, moisture, and sunlight. Choosing the best variety for your garden and keeping pests at bay will help you have an abundant corn crop. 

Amanda Whittington

Amanda is a big-hearted, determined, coffee-drinking, Jesus-loving mom to 6. She spends her free time absorbed in gardening and fitness, cycling and reading, all while encouraging adoption and foster care, championing the underdog, and of course, working with her chickens and goats. She is a freelance writer with a Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Eastern University. Catch up with Amanda at

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