Many growers want to know when to harvest sweet corn. While when to pick sweet corn seems like a straightforward question, the answer varies slightly for each plant. Corn needs a long growing season without being exposed to frost to produce ears of delicious kernels. Many sweet corn varieties have a tiny opening to harvest them to achieve optimum sweetness, making timing your harvest critical.
Most sweet corn is ready to harvest anywhere from 90 to 120 days after planting, though recognizing the exact day to pick it for best results takes a little knowledge. Discover when and how to harvest sweet corn to ensure your labor throughout the growing season does not go to waste and your corn is perfect.
Sweet corn demands little effort and matures relatively quickly to provide a tasty crop loved by many. Harvest every ear based on its individual readiness for succulent fresh kernels. Find out how to harvest corn correctly with this intelligent guide.
When I Harvest My Sweet Corn
Sweet corn is a well-liked vegetable enjoyed by many members of the family. It’s versatile as a side dish or part of the main meal and tastes great in soups and salads. Knowing when to harvest sweet corn to maximize flavor and texture is essential.
Learn signs for when to pick sweet corn, such as tassel color and kernel liquid, to ensure you harvest it right every time. Understanding how to harvest sweet corn is an essential skill for anyone growing or hoping to grow sweet corn.
My Varieties of Sweet Corn Based on Days to Maturity
Deciding which sweet corn variety to purchase when you buy sweetcorn seed may seem daunting. In addition to different umbrella varieties of corn such as field corn and flint corn, each cultivar is separated by group for the time it takes to mature.
These categories are determined by how long a cultivar takes to develop from seed to a mature ear of corn. Early varieties grow fastest and mature quickest, making it ideal if you want corn from your garden soon.
Mid-season varieties take longer, and late-season types may require the entire growing season before they’re ready for harvest. Planting a mixture of early, mid, and late-season corn is one way to ensure a continuous harvest as your corn plants will mature at different rates.
Types of Sweet Corn I Plant in My Home Garden
Today, the three most popular types of sweet corn are regular sweet corn, super sweet corn, and sugary enhanced sweet corn. They differ in terms of taste, seed hardiness, and shelf life. Choose the best sweet corn seed for your home garden by being aware of the various varieties of sweet corn and their characteristics.
The super sweet variety has almost twice as much sugar as other types. A longer harvest and storage time is achievable with supersweet cultivars because sugar conversion to starch occurs in super sweet varieties much more slowly than in others.
Despite this, supersweet corn varieties sometimes yield less than a standard sweet corn variety. These cultivars have shorter growing seasons in less temperate areas because their seeds are smaller and sprout less readily in a low soil temperature.
Regular sweet corn has a pleasant flavor and texture. After harvesting, the ears of regular sweet corn in the garden only retain their freshness for one or two days. Since the sugar providing traditional sweet corn’s exquisite flavor soon transforms to starch, they don’t keep well.
Sugary-enhanced sweet corn contains sugar levels midway between regular and supersweet varieties of sweet corn. The delicate texture with sugar added to the corn kernels makes it tender and tasty. Harvest and storage durations for sugary enhanced sweet corn varieties are slightly longer than those for regular sweet corn.
Planting My Sweet Corn Seed
If you soak your seed before you plant corn, purchase untreated seed. Treated seed is better for direct planting without soaking and is the better option if you’re growing corn outside its ideal parameters.
Wrap your seed in damp paper towels inside a sealed plastic bag and leave them for about a day before you plan to plant to hasten germination. Plant sweet corn seeds five inches apart, two inches deep, and make rows about three feet apart. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer after planting to provide the necessary nutrients for growth.
Caring for My Growing Sweet Corn
Growing corn plants is straightforward, and with minor upkeep throughout the growing season, you’ll enjoy a juicy corn cob in no time. Corn has shallow roots and is susceptible to stress from drought, so be sure to give it enough water.
These plants demand an inch of rain or irrigation every week, though sweet corn may need more water if it’s hot outside or if your soil is sandy. Mulch helps sweet corn plants stay hydrated by reducing evaporation.
When the corn is around eight inches tall, feed it with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Repeat the feeding when it reaches around knee height. Pack mounds of earth at the base of higher plants to support and keep the stems straight during strong gusts of wind.
Though too much wind may break unprotected stalks, some breeze is required for pollination. Later in the season, secondary shoots or suckers emerge low on the stem. These suckers or tillers have no detrimental effects on the stalks and are of no consequence.
Unfortunately, corn is susceptible to several pests and diseases. Be vigilant for issues like the corn earworm, the European corn borer (also known as corn borers), and corn smut, and treat as they arise to maintain a healthy crop.
Choosing My Best Sweet Corn Harvest Time
Though it’s relatively simple to grow, sweet corn is somewhat challenging to harvest, thanks to the small window to pick it for the best flavor. In warmer temperatures above 85°F sweet corn only remains at its peak for a day or two.
After the hard work of cultivating your corn, be sure to learn how to time your harvest for the best finished product. The goal is to collect sweet corn during the milk phase when the corn is the sweetest and most tender. Missing this stage by even a day results in a less sweet cob, though the ear is likely still edible.
When to Harvest Sweet Corn
When are sweet corn ready to pick? First, you must know how long does it take for sweet corn to grow. The time from sowing corn seed to harvest is between 90 and 120 days. Baby corn is the exception, as it’s picked much earlier.
Naturally, this range is founded on ideal circumstances, as numerous elements are involved. The time it takes to develop sweet corn is influenced by the soil’s moisture content, depth at which the corn seed is planted, temperature, and minerals available for growth.
After choosing a likely time for harvest, keep an eye on each ear individually to ensure you don’t miss its peak. When corn is mature, and the kernels are full-sized and milky, the tassels on the outside are brown. Corn should have flat or rounded ears, not pointed ones.
Corn develops more quickly in higher temperatures. It typically ripens between 15 and 23 days after it silks, although if temperatures are exceptionally high, it may ripen even sooner.
To test corn kernels viability, pull back a portion of the husk and puncture it with your fingernail or a small knife. If the liquid is white or milky, it is at an ideal ripeness for harvesting. When a stalk has two ears, the upper ear ripens one to two days before the one below.
How I Harvest Sweet Corn in My Garden
Harvesting sweet corn is simple and requires no tools. Growers harvest corn by removing the ear and stem from the corn plant stalk. Hold the corn ear firmly but gently and pull the ear straight down.
Twist as you pull to release it from the corn stalk. If you have difficulty harvesting corn by gripping and removing the ear, try cutting it with some garden shears or a sharp pair of scissors.
The sweetness levels in fresh corn plummet after harvest, so use it or begin preserving it immediately after you harvest it from the stalk.
Since corn has such a small window where it tastes best, it’s crucial to know when and how to harvest corn. Everyone prefers sweet and juicy kernels, whether you grow regular or supersweet corn. Explore the signs indicating your corn is ready for harvest and how to plant and care for corn to add this summer delicacy to your home garden.
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