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corn crop

Mon Jun 25, 2007 12:55 pm

I'm a f irst time planter and need a little help. I have 6 rows
70 feet long of corn that I planted April 19. The ears look
pretty big and the stalks are about 10' tall. My question is how do you know when they are ready to be picked.

Re: corn crop

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:03 pm

le-lou wrote:I'm a f irst time planter and need a little help. I have 6 rows
70 feet long of corn that I planted April 19. The ears look
pretty big and the stalks are about 10' tall. My question is how do you know when they are ready to be picked.


Sweet corn? Field corn. The answer will be very different. I'm guessing field corn. In that case after the kernels are dented and the leaves have turned brown. Later if you can wait.

If sweet corn dents it's much too late.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:06 pm

If you are talking about sweet corn, I can share what my uncle and I used to do when we were looking through the rows... We would physically feel the top of the ears through the husk to see if we could feel the kernels. We compared with further down the ear to see if it was relatively close. Once we thought we had a "good one" we would JUST BARELY split the husk over the end so we could see the kernels. If they looked nice at the end of the cob, it was a keeper. After a while of "feeling and then looking" we would hone in our "feeling skills" and could tell without looking if an ear is a good one. Every once in a while we would get an ear that was too young or one that had "passed its prime" so to speak (got starchy and tough), but most of what we picked was really good stuff.

I am sure that we did it all wrong, but that is what Uncle Jim's dad (my grandfather, whom I never had the pleasure to meet) taught him and what he does to this day...

Mike in La Crosse, WI

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:16 pm

Thanks Mike, thats the sort of info. I needed. It is sweet corn.
I'm under the impression that if you find one thats ready to pick,
You should go through the whole field and pick before they
get hard.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:20 pm

Thanks George, It is sweet corn. By denting I assume You
press a kernel with you nail and looking for it to burst.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:22 pm

le-lou wrote:Thanks Mike, thats the sort of info. I needed. It is sweet corn.
I'm under the impression that if you find one thats ready to pick,
You should go through the whole field and pick before they
get hard.


Someone correct me if I am leading this fella awry... I was under the impression that they all don't come on all at the same time. Ususally within a week or so from each other. You could have several ears on the same stalk that are ready at different times. Same thing between stalks. Are you picking it to sell or picking it to have your own to freeze and eat fresh?

The other thing is that the corn will become starchy pretty quickly once it is picked off the stalk, too. I have gotten some "fresh" sweet corn that was pretty nasty when I cooked it. I can always tell when I go to the farmers market if it is "past its prime" by checking the ends of the ear and splitting the husk at the stand. Funny thing is, the rest of these city folk in La Crosse couldn't tell a good ear from a bad one if it hit them in the head! I like my corn on the young side of ripe...much sweeter that way.

Mike in La Crosse, WI

Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:30 pm

Thanks again Mike, I'm learning a little with each post and it
seems as though I will be picking tomorrow.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 2:18 pm

le-lou wrote:Thanks George, It is sweet corn. By denting I assume You
press a kernel with you nail and looking for it to burst.


No. The dent stage of field corn is when the ear is mature and the kernels begin to shrink from loss of moisture. The kernels get a dent in the center. Sweet corn acts a little differently. The kernels shrink irregularly, but that's long after it's reached its prime.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:32 pm

I like all my vegetables very young. With corn, when the tassel just starts to turn brown I pick it and am eating it within 30 minutes. You might say I like nubbins better than full kernels I don't eat store bought fresh corn. Personal with okra, as soon as the bloom falls off the end of the okra, I pick it. Most people let it get a little bigger though. When cucumbers get past 4" long and for personal use, I pull it off and throw it in the middle. The only way I'll eat a tomato though is for it to be as red as its going to get, pull out the salt, pick the tomato, and eat it. I pick them off a salad in the restaurant and leave them.

Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:27 pm

Tracy used to work at a farmers market.She was taught how to pick corn and other veggies.I take her word cause she is usally right!As for tomatoes,Merlin I can't agree more or wait!!!!Getting close to having fresh tomatoes is great!!!My customers are all ready asking how the garden is doing!!!!Kevin

Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:24 am

Mike has it right as to feeling is sufficient to tell if corn is ready. Not all plants are ready at the same time. Not all ears on the same plant are mature at once either. If you feel the ears as they get near full size you will feel the kernals filling further and further from the stalk to the tip as time goes by. With a garden of sweet corn we have found you need at least 4 seperate rows. Do 10 or 20 feet of one variety and then 10 or 20 of a variety that matures 5 or 10 days later. Do this again with another variety and you will have a longer lasting picking time. Of course if you are in love with a particular variety you can plant some every 10 days to stretch out the picking of fresh corn.
The summers we were with Al Cobb in Waterloo NY, Al would pick corn on the way in to lunch and if the water wasn't boiling when he got in the house out the corn went to the chickens in the back yard. When the water boiled we went and picked fresh. Al never held corn over from 1 meal to the next. Prior to that I didn't know the difference between good and old corn It is a major improvement to say the least.
Cobb had large acreage in the Finger lakes. If I remember right he planted 12 rows of sweet corn right next to the field corn. We picked only the 8 outside rows for he felt that the first 4 would have some polinated by the field corn and not be fit for consumption.
The years with Al sure spoiled me for corn.

Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:43 pm

A lot of these when to gather methods work and work pretty well. For me, it is the color of the silk and it doesn't take long to be able to pick corn with pretty good consistency. When the silks turn a medium brown color, it is ready to pick, greenish brown, too young,and black, well you should oughta done got it. Just practice a little le-lou, you'll have it no time :!: .
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