How Soil Helps Corn Survive

By Dr. Harold Willis

A big problem with growing corn is the weather, which seems to do just the opposite of what we want—rain when we want to plant or harvest and drought when the crop is trying to grow. Too high (over 90°F) or too low (under 50°F) temperatures are detrimental to growth and yield. Too much and too little soil moisture decrease the roots’ ability to absorb water and nutrients. Too little light (cloudy weather) decreases photosynthesis and growth. Wind and hailstorms can decimate a growing crop.


You may think that you have no control over such problems, since you can’t control the weather, but actually, the condition of your soil and the health of your crop determine how badly adverse weather affects the crop.

If the soil has plenty of humus and is loose and spongy, it will be well-drained but will soak up a tremendous amount of mois­ture and hold it for the plants during dry weather. You can drive around and see a lush green field next to one that is burned up by a drought; the difference is in the soil.

Also, healthy plants can withstand temperature extremes (in­cluding frost) and cloudy weather better than stressed ones. They also have stronger (but more elastic) stalks to withstand wind and can recover faster from all but the worst hail damage. Ammonium sulfate acts as a temperature moderator, warming soil in the spring and cooling it in the summer.

corn field flooded
Weather never does what we want it to, so ensuring your soil health system is focused on resilience is key.

Problems? Sure, we all have them. Do we let them get us down or are they a challenge to overcome?

Source: How to Grow Top Quality Corn