As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing better than home-grown corn. Unfortunately, those golden nuggets of juicy deliciousness don’t just sprout out of the ground for fun, which means we have to put a little effort in to grow them. And that brings us to the focus of today’s post: everything you need to know about when to plant corn in Michigan (and the answer might just surprise you)…
What Corn Needs
Before we start thinking about planting corn in Michigan and the best time for that, we just wanted to highlight the main important points for growing corn. Things like the weather they like, the soil they like, and what they really, REALLY, don’t like:
- Temperatures: Corn likes to grow in warm weather, but they don’t thrive in direct sunlight because too much heat will kill the crop!
- Soil: Corn seeds germinate at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so the soil temperature needs to be around here
- Prep work: To get your corn ready for planting, you’ll want to compost and manure the patch of soil you’re growing it in the Fall before you plant
- AVOID: Planting too early – the frost will kill this plant much quicker than most
With those very basic planting conditions in mind, it sort of gets us to wondering – is planting corn in Michigan even possible?
Should You Grow Corn In Michigan?
The reason we’re asking that question is that the last reported temperature ranges for a year in Michigan ranged from 18 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in Southern regions of Michigan, and from 3 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in Northern regions.
That doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence for the warm weather and sunlight corn loves.
However, one quick look online for the amount of corn that is grown in Michigan each year will show you that upwards of 290 million bushels of corn are grown here. So yes, you can grow corn in Michigan, you should grow corn in Michigan, but you might face a few challenges along the way…
Reasons Corn May Struggle To Grow In Michigan
If you’re somebody who likes to prepare for the worst whilst hoping for the best, then here’s the three major challenges you’ll face when growing corn in Michigan. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an industrial farmer or an at-home grower, these problems will affect us all:
- Short growing season
- Poor soil conditions
- Cooler temperatures
Short Growing Season
Even if you’re Michigan born and bred, there’s no denying that it takes a long time to warm up after the winter months have rolled by. That means your growing season is always going to be shorter.
Now that’s not always a bad thing, but the problem with corn is that it needs time to grow. It needs time underground to germinate (with soil temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit), and then it needs time to grow into those large bushels of corn we see growing in their thousands in southern states.
With a short growing season, it’s more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult.
Poor Soil Conditions
One other thing Michigan deals with more than most is rain. If it isn’t raining just yet, then it will be soon – or at least that’s our attitude towards it. That spells a problem, though.
Corn is quite particular about the soil conditions it likes. It takes a little prep work with compost and manure, like we said earlier – but have you ever tried setting up your soil with manure and compost in the middle of a downpour in Fall though? Trust us, it isn’t easy. So again, you might find it to be a little more effort than it’s worth to grow corn in Michigan.
And then, of course, you’ve got the cooler temperatures. There’s no need to go too in depth with this one because it’s a simple fact: corn hates the cold. It needs to be consistently warm to get the best crop, and anybody living in Michigan knows that consistent heat isn’t always possible…
When To Plant Corn In Michigan
With all that said, we still think planting corn in Michigan is a good idea. It takes a little patience, for sure, but that shouldn’t put you off growing corn.
Fresh corn is delicious and growing your own is all part of the fun, but when is it best to plant corn in Michigan, what with all the fluctuating temperatures and rain?
The best time to plant corn in Michigan is between the beginning and middle of May. This will allow the corn seeds to germinate in the soil and grow, and it’s just early enough to give it a fair shot at a longer growing season.
Most farmers actually opt to plant two weeks on either side of this too (so very late April to the end of May) because of how temperamental corn can be. You might want to do this at home too, so any surprise last-minute frosts don’t kill off your entire crop.
So, to clarify as we finish, the very best time to plant corn in Michigan is between early May and the middle of May. To be safe, though, plant in cycles between the end of April and the end of May to guarantee at least some surviving crops. And hey, if you’re lucky, you might end up with all of them surviving, and that just means even more delicious corn!