Corn grows from seeds or kernels that are planted in 1 to 2 inches of fresh soil. The kernels may take up to 12 days to germinate. Following germination, a taproot grows downward and small leaves begin to sprout above the soil. As the plant grows it develops pollen-containing tassels, leaves and corn silk. The pollen travels on the wind to neighboring plants, fertilization occurs and ears of corn develop.
The time frame between planting corn kernels and harvesting ranges from 55 to 95 days. Factors that can slow down growth include weather, soil temperature and corn variety. Corn tends to grow rapidly during periods of hot weather, but this can lead to wilted leaves. Regular watering helps corn retain moisture during extremely hot periods, but farmers must take precautions to ensure that corn tassels remain dry. Moisture hinders the tassels from releasing enough pollen to adequately pollinate the plants and produce corn kernels.
The specific flavor of corn is determined by harvesting times. Sweet corn is typically harvested early because the kernels are filled with a milky liquid substance that gives the corn its sweet taste. If left in the field too long, the liquid develops into starch. This creates solid corn, also referred to as field corn.