One of the best ways to protect corn from frost is to create a frame of stakes or hoops that is taller than the corn plants. Then, stretch a frost blanket over the frame and weigh it down at the edges. This barrier prevents frost and ice from forming on corn. Additionally, it’s best to add a 4-inch (10 cm) layer of mulch around the base of your corn plants to insulate the ground and prevent damaged corn roots. Water in the daytime before a frosty night to help prevent hard freezes that can destroy corn roots.
Table of Contents
3 Methods to Protect Corn from Frost
Corn can take time and effort to grow, so you don’t want to lose your harvest to frost. The good news is you don’t have to! Below are 3 effective ways to protect your corn from frost:
Protect Your Corn With Frost Blankets
Frost blankets are a particularly good option when it comes to protecting corn from frost. These blankets come in varying degrees of thickness, and it is important to choose one that protects down to 24℉ (-4℃).
- Use frost blankets to protect your corn from cold temperatures.
- Choose blankets thick enough to protect down to 24℉ (-4℃), such as this frost covering.
- Secure them with metal or wire hoops and weigh down the edges of the material with bricks or sandbags.
- Don’t allow the material to touch the plants.
When using these covers, support them above the crop with metal, wire, or PVC hoops. The effect you’re aiming for is to create a mini greenhouse. Weigh the edges of the material down with sandbags or bricks, and make sure that the material does not touch the plants.
Build a Mulch Barrier to Keep Frost Damage Away
Creating a mulch barrier is another way to give your corn a boost and help it survive a frost. Cover the soil at the base of your corn bed with organic material. Some of the best options for corn include shredded leaves, evergreen needles, and twice-shredded bark.
- Create a 4-inch thick (10 cm) mulch barrier at the base of your corn bed.
- Use evergreen needles, shredded leaves, or twice-shredded bark.
- Don’t pack the mulch too tightly around the base of the plant.
Mulch moderates soil temperature and conserves moisture, both of which are beneficial if a frost is predicted. Make your mulch barriers approximately 4 inches deep (10 cm), and leave them in place from then on. Avoid packing the mulch too tightly around the base of the plants, though, as this can have a “choking” effect on the stalks.
Water Your Corn Before a Frost
Sometimes it is unwise to water vegetables before a frost, and other times it is beneficial. Corn is a vegetable that benefits from watering just prior to a frost. This is because the outer leaves around the corn and the silks in which the corn is wrapped have a thick consistency.
- Water your corn in the evening if a frost is predicted for that night.
- Don’t saturate the corn with water.
- Water the entire bed lightly at sundown and always water from the top.
When moisture freezes on the leaves, it actually creates a barrier that keeps the inner husk warm. Avoid drenching your corn, and instead, water the entire corn bed lightly from the top at sundown on the night before a frost.
Does Frost Hurt Corn?
Frost hurts corn in as little as a few hours, particularly if temperatures drop below 28℉ (-2℃). Mild frosts will not typically hurt corn, although they may permanently damage the outer leaves and silks.
- Frost can harm or destroy corn.
- Ice crystals can puncture the kernels’ skin and render the corn inedible.
- Corn damaged by temperatures of 24℉ (-4℃) or colder will not usually recover.
Sometimes, the kernels of corn will survive cold temperatures, but prolonged frost or frigid temperatures are detrimental to corn in most cases. This is because ice crystals often puncture the skin of the actual kernels, which renders the corn inedible.
When Should You Protect Corn from Frost?
Frost damage can harm corn at a rapid pace, depending on how far temperatures drop. Any time a frost is predicted, begin at sundown to implement whatever method you have chosen to protect your corn from frost.
- Any time a frost is predicted, you should plan to protect your corn.
- Begin at sundown on the day of the frost, in order to have frost cover in place in time.
- Protect corn from frost any time the ground is expected to freeze to a depth of ¾ of an inch (2 cm).
Even just a few hours of exposure to temperatures of 28℉ (-2℃) and exposure to the frigid ground can be harmful or lethal to corn. So, it’s best to act fast when frost is predicted so that you can stop your corn from being destroyed.
How to Cover Corn from Frost
Corn can survive a light frost and will often recover if the temperature did not go below 28℉ (-2℃). In colder temperatures, however, corn needs protection from frost.
- Protect corn whenever frost is predicted.
- Frost-damaged corn may look wilted, waterlogged, and be discolored.
- Cover corn with a thick frost blanket when temperatures plummet.
- Build a barrier of mulch at the base of your plants to protect your corn from frost.
- Water your corn in the late afternoon or evening prior to a frost.
Protecting corn from cold air temperatures and a frozen soil surface ensures your corn will survive until harvest. Protecting corn from frost even protects the kernels from ice damage and ensures you have edible ears of corn.