Effect of clear plastic mulch and rowcovers on maturity and yield of direct seeded and transplanted fresh market sweet corn (Zea mays L.)

Aguyoh, Joseph
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For the springs of 1996 and 1997, the plastic mulch harvest advantage for the direct seeded was +1 or 10 days for silt loam soil but no advantage for the loamy sand site. Use of rowcovers resulted in no yield advantage compared to clear plastic mulch. Transplants did not show a consistent advantage over direct seeding. The 50-cell tray transplants matured earlier than the jiffy strip transplants in both locations in 1997. Four week old transplants in both jiffy strips and 50-cell trays were not able to withstand the field stress and had very poor performance. Ear qualities such as row number, ear diameter, ear length, and tipfill were lowest with transplants.Iowa growers of sweet corn, have used clear plastic mulch and rowcovers to improve early yield and advance the maturity of the crop. Results have been inconsistent due to early temperature variability and inadequate information on the choice of the cultivar to grow. Our objective was to improve performance consistency of sweet corn by investigating production techniques with the early cultivar, 'Temptation', se at two sites, a silt loam in central Iowa in 1996 and 1997, and a loamy sand along the Mississippi river in eastern Iowa in 1997. Treatments consisted of bare soil or clear plastic mulch, rowcovers or none, direct seeded or transplanted. The transplants were raised in the greenhouse in either jiffy strips or 50-cell plastic trays.