Growing Hydroponic Corn – A Full Guide

Growing Hydroponic Corn.
Growing Hydroponic Corn.

Introduction: Hello gardeners we are back with a great information of growing hydroponic corn. Corn is the particular hydroponic plant that grows high. Usually, home gardeners tend to opt for growing small plants that do not extend too much. Corn is the type of plant that wants extra support in the growing medium to stay straight. Also, grow lights are a must to keep the plant happy.

A step by step guide to growing hydroponic corn

First of all, consider spacing and although it grows pretty tall, corn needs some spacing around it too. Thus, when planting the seeds remember to leave some space for the plant to extend in both ways. Also, spacing is crucial because you will have to use vertical growing lights in between plants.

Corn can be grown hydroponically either indoors or outside. Corn consumes a lot of vertical space, so that, of course, must be considered if planning to grow it indoors. The term hydroponics refers to the practice of growing several crops without soil, with the plants receiving their nourishment from water instead. In contrast to soil-based agriculture, where the plants are fed by extracting nutrients from the soil, the roots of hydroponically grown plants are bathed in a complete liquid plant food that consists of all the nutrients the plants need.

In place of soil, some hydro systems use a medium to anchor the plants, such as rock wool, coir, or perlite. Other systems have no solid growing medium, with the roots bathing directly in the liquid. The general thread tying all hydro systems together is that the plants are receiving fertility from the nutrient solution, rather than soil.

A guide to Growing Hydroponic Corn.
A guide to Growing Hydroponic Corn.

Easy way to set up a hydroponic corn garden 

One of the first steps to easily putting corn into a hydroponic involves looking at how it’s grown in soil and building on that concept.

With that in mind, one of the best ideas is to make a simple bucket system. It’s this easy to get a collection of 5-gallon buckets and fill them with an easy grow media solution. Clay pellets are a great option, and so is rock wool.

You’ll put corn seeds or seedlings in the buckets, and allow them to produce directly in the grow media. You’ll add tubes to each bucket to obtain water into the bucket and then collect it. This type of serial drip system works well with corn plants.

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Set up Timing

One of the tricky elements is to set up a pump and figure out how much water your corn will get on a given day. The crops will want a substantial amount of nutrient-rich water so do some experimentation and figure out whether you can automate water cycles or whether you have to do it manually.

Lighting for growing hydroponic corn

The corn is also going to want a substantial amount of light, which is why a lot of growers simply grow it in a greenhouse space. They might even supplement the natural sunlight coming in through greenhouse plastic with an interior produce light structure.

Corn needs lots of light of about 8 to 12 hours daily. Using side lighting with corn is not quite as efficient as overhead lighting but it does work.

Containers for growing hydroponic corn

Corn can be developed in 5-gallon buckets at 2 stalks per bucket, or hydroponic tubs at 6 stalks per tub.

What corn eats

As with any type of hydroponic crop, you can buy simple pre-packaged nutrient packages for corn. Put this into the reservoir and deliver it through the supply of water, and you’re all set.

It is easy to get moldy or mildewed ears if the humidity situation isn’t right. It’s easy to obtain undeveloped ears if you don’t meet all the conditions that the corn needs. But that’s not a challenge of hydroponics that’s the same challenge you can have growing corn in a soil garden.

Water requirement for growing hydroponic corn

Corn plants require water for growth, and it has to be sufficient quantities and of acceptable quality. The water used for hydroponics should not have any harmful pathogens or unacceptable levels of chemical elements and should be at the right temperature, concentration, and pH level typically slightly acidic for optimal plant growth. This water typically has a pH of eight or more. Municipal water is too alkaline for optimal hydroponic production, and always has a pH of about eight to prevent corrosion in plumbing. Proper drainage and aeration around underground roots are necessary for root growth as they prevent carbon dioxide (CO2) from building up in the root zone due to respiration. In hydroponic systems, plants produce with their roots hanging in the nutrient solution, and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in the solution should be high enough to promote root growth and be carefully controlled.

Seeding

Seeds must be placed about an inch below the media surface and anticipate germination in about a week. A small percentage of the seed will never germinate; you’ll want to replant more seeds in the empty spaces to ensure optimal use of time and space.

Nutrients for growing hydroponic corn

Corn craves nitrogen; it must be fed on a nitrogen-rich nutrient solution from seed to harvest. A moderate quantity of potassium and phosphorous for a balanced diet.

The pH level for growing hydroponic corn

Depending on what you’re trying to grow, not having the optimum pH of your water can greatly diminish your plants’ ability to absorb vitamins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. (For instance, most of the herbs mentioned above thrive in a pH that is lower than that of most tap water.) So it’s important to check the ideal pH preferences of plants and adjust the water accordingly.

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Climate and temperature

As most plants prefer a temperature between 60 to 80°F, it’s important to keep an eye on how hot or cold it gets around your hydroponic garden. Sometimes you’ll want to protect it from the heat generated by your grow lamps or a nearby radiator. Other times you’ll want to protect them from falling temperatures in the winter, even though they’re indoors.

Conditions required for growing hydroponic corn

  • Estimate one large container per corn sapling and the container should be three times as large as the sapling’s root ball.
  • Select hydroponic fertilizer at a local hydroponics store that is specific for corn or crops like it. Pour the mixture of fertilizer and water into a large container with rock wool lining.
  • Cover the top of the container with plastic wrap and protected it around the top of the pot with a rubber band. Use the corn sapling to poke a hole into the plastic and maintain straight through the rock wool with it.
  • Keep the corn in the hydroponics container in an area that will receive a large amount of sunlight. This can be indoors (with fluorescent lighting) or outdoors depending on region and geography. It needs at least 7 hours of sunlight per day. Pay attention to pH balance because above 8.0 on the pH level is too high.
  • Observe the corn to make sure it is growing correctly. Water the corn hydroponic container once you notice the water is evaporating to below the rooftops. Do not add more fertilizer. If you notice that the bottom plant leaves are turning brown, remove the plastic wrap for more oxygen.
  • Remove the plastic wrap completely once the corn appears to be growing strong enough so it doesn’t want to be supported by the wrap. 

Process of growing hydroponic corn

  • Corn requires 8 to 12 hours of direct light to produce happily. Placing the light source on the ceiling won`t do the job and this is why we said that you will have to use vertical lights. When installing those, that they are a heat source too, which can interfere with the environment you set up. In other words, put them at a certain distance to avoid temperature shifting. Furthermore, that you use around the corn some reflective material to increase the efficiency of light. This will help you in distributing evenly the light and growing corn may turn out to be pretty expensive.
  • Remember that corn wants pollination, which means you will have to do it manually. You can make use of a fan to start the procedure and allow it to further develop. Keep in mind that you want to blow on it gently. Even though it appears to be a tough plant, it is very sensitive.
  • Choosing the proper growing media is very important. It is recommended to opt for rock wool or a mixture between perlite and also vermiculite. And, coco coir and clay pebbles can do a great job because they offer both moisture and sustenance.
  • When placing the corn seeds remember that you do not have to push them deep under the growing media. Germination happens after 7 days, which is the perfect opportunity to observe whether or not your seeds will bloom. This is the time when you must have ready another batch of seeds to complete the culture.
  • Corn mainly depends on the nitrogen supply. So, you will have to make sure that the mixture of nutrients has higher levels of the substance. To offer them a balanced diet, you will have to insert potassium and phosphorous too. This will keep the corn plant happy.
  • Also, growing hydroponic corn is not that hard. It just wants space and growing lights. Keep in mind that it can increase certain diseases like fungal infections or bacterial outbursts. In those cases, be ready to treat the corn plant that is affected. Anyway, it is better to prevent those, than a treat. So, when working with your corn makes sure everything is correctly cleaned.

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Harvesting of hydroponic corn

Harvesting of Hydroponic Corn.
Harvesting of Hydroponic Corn.

There are several signs which indicate when to harvest your hydroponic corn. In the cornfield, the harvest is normally 18 to 21 days after the silk first appears. In a hydroponics setting, depending on conditions this procedure is somewhat expedited. Corn plants tend to grow up to 50% faster in a hydroponics setup. When all goes well absolutely no glitches or setbacks expect to harvest corn 2 weeks after the first silk is visible. Another sign is that the angle of the cob changes from being straight to 30 degrees from the stalk. And lastly, to check for maturity you can peel back the husks for a peak. If the kernels look juicy stick a thumbnail in and the kernel will ooze a milky substance, somewhat like that in canned corn if it is ready for harvest. 

Benefits of hydroponic corn growing

  • Hydroponics is proved to have several benefits over soil gardening. The plant growth rate on a hydroponic plant is 30 to 50 percent faster than a soil plant. The yield of the plant is also greater in the hydroponic system compared to a soil plant. The extra oxygen in the hydroponic growing mediums will help to stimulate root growth. Plants growing hydroponic system with ample oxygen in the root system absorb nutrients faster. The nutrients in a hydroponic are mixed with the water and sent directly to the root system.
  • Growing with hydroponics comes with many benefits, the biggest of which is a greatly increased rate of growth in your plants. With the proper setup, plants will mature up to 25% faster and produce up to 30% more than the same plants grown in soil.
  • Your plants will produce bigger and faster because they will not have to work as hard to obtain nutrients.
  • A hydroponic system will use less water than soil-based plants because the system is enclosed, which results in less evaporation. Believe it or not, the hydroponic system is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff.
  • The hydroponic system offers several benefits to our environment. The hydroponic system uses considerably less water than soil gardening, because of the constant reuse the nutrient solutions. Due to a lack of necessity, fewer pesticides are used on hydroponic plants. Since hydroponic gardening uses no topsoil, topsoil erosion isn’t even an issue. While, if agricultural trends continue to erode topsoil and wastewater, hydroponics may soon be our only solution.

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