CORN: HIGH ELEVATION
Q: Can corn be grown at high elevation?
A: Well, perhaps some folks have had some success, but not us.
Our first year of gardening here, I wanted badly to prove the naysayers wrong. I was convinced that if I chose the right varieties, provided protection from the weather when necessary, and did everything I could to encourage success, I could grow just about anything—even corn. So I did just that. I suppose it was worth a try, but I’ll never waste my time or garden space on corn again.
I looked for varieties than might be suitable for our environment, and chose Yukon Chief corn. The description states:
55-70 days. Developed in 1958 by the University of Alaska. Yukon Chief sweet Corn is cold resistant and early maturing making it a perfect for colder mountain or coastal climates.
Yukon Chief grows about three to four feet high, producing slightly tapered yellow 4-7 inch ears with 12 rows of kernels. Plants produce about two to three ears per plant. Can produce as many as 6 ears on multiple tillers for each plant. This corn would be great for gardening in small spaces or containers. This corn would make a great addition to a school garden or for gardening with children.
I thought this would be the perfect corn for this location in my raised beds. Since it is shorter, I knew it would fit within our framework and I could cover it as needed to keep it warm. We wouldn’t want our poor little corn to get chilly! I thought that having been bred in Alaska, it might be a good fit for us: Alaska being cool with a short season.
The Yukon Chief corn we grew produced the shorter corn plants seen here, with very few ears of corn. All the ears were small, as expected, but they were not filled with kernels, as seen above.
I suppose it was worth the try. Corn, along with a few other things, isn’t suited for our climate or this high elevation and latitude. I don’t think other methods of protection from the cold would help.
What I didn’t take into account when I considered Alaskan corn is that Alaska has LOTS of daylight in the summer–you know, the midnight sun? The Anchorage area has about 19.5 hours of sunlight per day, in comparison to our 16 or so. I think this may make a big difference, even though their moderate-to-cool temperatures are similar to ours.