How to Pre Sprout Corn Seed


Planting corn in spring is a little bit of a gamble because corn seed is prone to rotting during cool, wet weather. Luckily, you can beat the odds by pre-sprouting your corn seed inside. Sprouted seeds handle variable weather much better than dry seed and typically send up shoots within a few days of planting outdoors. Pre-sprouting is a super simple process--and definitely the best way to limit your losses due to rot and improve your corn yields. Here's what you need to do.

  • Pour a packet of corn seed into a shallow dish. Sort through the seeds and remove any that are broken or cracked.

  • Layer two paper towels on top of each other and get them wet. Spread the sorted corn seed out on half of the wet paper towel. Then fold the other half of the towel over the top of the seeds. The seeds should now be sandwiched between a double layer of paper towels.

  • Slide the paper towel into a resealable plastic bag and then seal the bag three-fourths of the way shut. Place the bag in a warm, dark place. Check on the seeds daily, making sure that the towel stays moist.

  • Remove the seeds from the towel as soon as you see roots beginning to emerge (usually 2 to 4 days). Immediately plant the sprouted seeds one inch deep, taking special care not to break their delicate, fleshy roots. When planting, space the seeds 4 or 5 inches apart in rows 24 inches apart. When the corn reaches 4 inches tall, thin the seedlings out to 10 inches apart.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cover your corn bed with bird netting to protect your crop, being sure to weigh down the edges with bricks to keep birds from sneaking in. Remove the netting when the corn seedlings reach 2 inches high to prevent them from becoming hopelessly tangled in the netting.

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