how to grow corn for survival

For those of you that are blessed with a lot of land, the first thing to work out is what to grow? In a survival situation corn should be high on your list of fruit and vegetables to grow.

In this post, we will be talking about Corn (Zea mays) its many uses such as food, fuel, etc.

Corn is one of the most farmed crops in America. Corn leads all other crops in value and volume of production. There is a reason for this. There are just so many uses for corn.

How to grow corn?

Corn can grow all around the world as long as it can get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Corn is best planted in the spring and summertime when sunlight is plentiful.

  • Best climate: Warm, hot to humid conditions.
  • Planting season: Spring and summer or all year round in the tropics.
  • Corn Spacing: 25cm apart with 60cm between each row.
  • Harvest time: 8-10 weeks.
  • Climate Temperature: 15′ C and above
  • Corn Germinate time: 10-14 days.
  • Pollination: Naturally by the wind.
  • Corn Harvest Time: From 60 to 100 days depending on climate.
  • Yield Produce: Will form two or more cobs per plant
  • Soil pH: 5.5-7

Corn is grown from dried seed and it will have an expiry date or sow by date. Only buy fresh corn and only buy as much as you need for planting.


Your soil needs to be tilled and fertilized. Corn thrives well in natural composted earth. Be sure to work over your soil and water in well before planting to provide moisture-rich earth for your seed.

An all-purpose fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will be perfect for corn. Mix in lots of organic matter like compost, blood, and bone. Mulch well with pea straw or seaweed.

How far apart to plant corn? – Sowing

farming corn as a prepper

Sow your seed into moist soil 5-9 mm deep with a few seeds per hole. We can thin these out later if required. Make sure to space corn 25cm apart, with at least 60cm of spacing between each row.

You can also germinate in a greenhouse and then transplant into your farm/garden. This is more labor-intensive but will save on seed corn. This can give a farmer an early start in cooler climates.

Plant your corn seed in blocks of three or more rows. This will help in pollination. The wind blows the male pollen into the female flower so it is best to bunch your crops rather than having one long single row. You will have an even dispersal of pollen, producing a high-quality cob

Water and Fertilizer

After planting water your field well but only once. If you water too much you will risk seed corn rot. One single deep watering is all that is required to germinate your corn. After germination, you can water as required.

Liquid fertilizer is best for corn as it is such a quick-growing plant. Diluted seaweed and fish emulsion work well. You can also make your own with diluted cow manure and vegetable scraps.

When farming corn for survival or to sell it is a good idea to stager your planting season every 3-6 weeks. This will give you corn all year round if living in the tropics or 3/4 of a year if living in cold climates.

How long does it take for corn to grow? -Harvest

how to grow corn in your backyard

Corn can take from 60 to 100 days to mature and be ready to harvest depending on climate. The first sign of corn maturity is when the silks at the top of the cobs have turned brown.

It is best to open some of the protective husks and pierce a single corn kernel with a stick or a knife. It should release a milky colored liquid when ready to be picked. If the liquid is clear then it needs more time to mature. If there’s no liquid, the sugars have started to be converted to starch which is bad.

You should get two or more cobs per corn plant depending on pollination and water factors.

Be sure to fence off your corn farm to top livestock from eating your harvest.

If you have a small property you can even grow corn in containers or pots.

What can we use corn for?

Corn can be used for basic food such as corn flour, cornmeal, hominy, grits, and Ethanol. It can be used as animal feed to help fatten our hogs, chickens, goats, sheep, and cattle.

Corn is rich with vitamin C. One corn cob contains around 30% of your suggested daily intake of vitamin C.

It can be made into high-fructose corn syrup or even bio-based plastics. No wonder we grow so much of the stuff.

It can be used to make cornbread or fermented into corn moonshine (alcohol). So if the alcohol content is strong enough you can even make your own hand sanitizer.

Corn Trivia?

  • Corn is called maize by most countries, this comes from the Spanish word ‘maiz’.
  • An ear or cob of corn is actually part of the flower and an individual kernel is a seed.
  • On average, an ear of corn has 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • Corn will always have an even number of rows on each cob.
  • With the exception of Antarctica, corn is grown on every continent in the world.
  • There are over 3,000 different uses for corn products.
  • A bushel is a unit of measure for volumes of dry commodities such as corn kernels. One Bushel of corn is equal to 8 gallons or 30.2 liters.
  • Corn can be grown in various colors such as black, bluish-gray, purple, green, red, white, and everyone’s favorite yellow.


If you are serious at growing your own food as a survivalist then you must add corn into your plans. It is easy to grow and dosnt need much water.

With all of its uses you will find it is one of the most versitile foods you can grow.

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Mic Roland
Mic Roland
3 years ago

Corn is, indeed, an excellent survival garden crop. While it is a more tropical plant, it has been grown up here in New England for a long time. (Native Americans)

The ‘starch is bad’ comment applies only if you want to pick for sweet corn — that is, corn-on-the-cob. If you’re growing for dry corn (for flour, hominy, masa, etc.) then, starch is good.

Corn takes a little practice and experience to get the hang of it in a survival garden. Better to get familiar with it now than trying to figure it out in crunch-times.