Stunted Sweet Corn

I am a beginning gardener and I'm having trouble with my sweet corn. I know just from research that its common for sweet corn plants to be smaller than field varieties but I can't help wondering if I'm doing something wrong.
Some background: I live in South Florida (or close enough to it) so the growing season is almost the opposite of northern states. Down here our growing season is late summer through mid-spring. I planted the corn about two months ago (August) and most of the plants have reached about 3 to 4 feet high. The problem is each plant is only producing a single, small ear. The plant stems are about a half inch in diameter near the base and gradually become about a thin as a pencil lead at the top. Each ear is growing very low on the stem and appear to be maturing when they are only about an inch in diameter and three inches long. I'm assuming they are ready to harvest because the "hairs" have turned try and brown.
The garden is located against an eight foot high privacy fence so inadequate sunlight is one possibility. There is also a tree on the neighbor's side of the fence that may be robbing the soil of nutrients. Additionally there is a pine tree not to far away that constantly bombards the garden with pine needles. I would have planted in the center of the yard except there is a septic leach field and I was worried about contamination.
The one thing I'm sure of is enough water. I use a soaker hose for drip irrigation so I know the corn is getting plenty of water.
Any ideas/suggestions?
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Lack of sunlight would be one reason but also probably lack of food. Sweet Corn is a really gross feeder and (unless you have somehow got a minature variety - not that I've ever seen such a thing) you really need to pile up food and mulch around the stems as the corn grows. Corn will put out new roots into the mulch from each of the 'joints' along the stem. Either last year or the year before we used elephant poop mixed with old straw around the stems as the corn grew and it reached that proverbial 'high as an elephant's eye' height.
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