Sweet corn requires 18 to 28 inches of water per acre, depending on weather conditions, throughout the growing season. Soils should be maintained at 85% of available field capacity, meaning that soils should not be permanently waterlogged but also should not be allowed to dry out. Water needs are especially critical during tassel, silk, and ear formation. Drought stress during ear development will decrease yield, lower kernel quality, and negatively affect flavor.
Appropriate irrigation frequency depends on soil type. Although flood irrigation is especially common, sprinkler or drip irrigation may produce more consistent ear size and a 25 to 40% reduction in water use.