How Do You Know When To Pick Corn?

Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by

The best time to harvest corn is when the ears are at the climax of perfection. If you leave the kernels for too long, they will become starchy and hard. Your corn will be ready for harvesting around twenty days after the silk first appears. This silk turns brown at harvest time, but the husks are still green.  

Every stalk has at least one ear near the top, but when the conditions are favorable, you can find another ear near the stem’s lower end. Lower ears are generally small in size, and they mature a little later than those at the top.

Ensure that your corn is at the ‘milk stage’ before you begin picking it by puncturing a kernel and looking for some milky liquid. A clear fluid indicates that the seeds aren’t ready, but if there’s no liquid, it means you have waited for so long.

How Can I Tell That My Corn Is Ripe?

Looking at your corn’s appearance and texture may not be enough to tell that it is ripe. A small ear could be ready for harvest, and so the size cannot be a relevant factor to consider. Follow the steps below;

1. Know The Number Of Days Until Harvest

Ensure you know the number of days until harvesting for your specific corn. You can consult your seed supplier or check the package to find out. A simple guideline is 20-days from the appearance of the first tassels at the end of the ear. 

2. Look At The Cornsilk

If you look at the corn, you will see tassels at the end of each ear. These tassels include cornsilk and are part of the crop that bears and receives pollen. Cornsilk changes color from a light blond to dark brown when corn is ready for harvesting. If the cornsilk is dark brown up to the husk, it can be assumed that your corn is ready to eat. 

3. Double-Check The Ripeness

To be sure that your corn is ripe, pull back the husk and pick a kernel. Ensure that the grains are filled from the base of the ear to the tip of the plant. Rub your thumbnail against the seeds, and if they squirt some milk or feel tender, they are ready.

4. Feel The Husks

Mature corn will have dark-green, firm husks, and the silk will be dark but tightly held against the ear. You will feel each kernel through the husk. 

Tips For Harvesting Corn

Corn may ripen faster in hot and slower in cold weather. It may be ready for picking between 17 and 24 days after the appearance of the first fine strands of silk at the top of the ears. The following tips help know when to harvest corn;

1. Pick your corn after the silks turn brown and are dry. Ensure that the ears are plump and full when you touch but are still green. Ensure also that the kernels are full-sized, white, or yellow when you observe them at the ear’s tip.

2. Pick your corn in the morning when it is cold and before the sun warms up the ears. If you pick your corn during the day’s heat, it will lead to the speedy conversion of natural sugars to starch. Picking early in the day gives you the sweetest ears.  

3. Suppose you must harvest corn at the heart of the day, plunge the ears immediately into cold water or place them on ice for around 30 minutes. Doing this slows the conversion of sugars to starch.

4. The majority of corn plants produce two ears per stalk, and the second one comes after the first and usually is smaller. Some hybrids can yield more than two years. 

How To Store Your Corn

Storing your corn after harvesting is very crucial to prevent them from getting damaged. Here’s what to know;

1. Using Freshly Harvested Corn

Cook your corn immediately after harvesting for fresh eating. If you want to get the excellent flavor, use your corn within an hour or two and only remove the husks when ready to cook. If you are not prepared to cook immediately, you can store your corn in the refrigerator with the husks on as most varieties can stand refrigeration up to one week.

2. Canning  

You can, can your corn using a pressure cooker. Wash your cans and prepare the lids as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Place whole-kernel corn in the jars in quarts or pints and cream-style corn, pack them in pint or half-pint jars only.

3. Freezing 

Freeze your corn after blanching either off or on the cob. For better canning or freezing, put the ears in a gallon of boiling water and let it blanch 3 minutes after the water goes back to a boil. Allow the ears to cool and cut the kernels from the cob about 3/4 of the kernels’ depth. Avoid scraping the cob.

4. Pickling

You can extend the shelf life of your corn by either immersing in vinegar or by anaerobic fermentation. However, it is good to remember that this process will affect your corn’s flavor, texture, and taste.

What Month Is Corn Harvested?

Corn harvesting dates vary based on several factors. The Corn Belt, however, prepares to start the fall harvest in September. The fall corn harvests typically last two months, but this may vary, for example, in Texas, where it lasts 3 ½ months.

How Long Does Corn Last After Harvesting?

Fresh eating corn should be cooked within an hour or two after harvesting to give the best flavor.  Avoid removing the husks if you are not ready to cook the corn. You can, however, refrigerate the corn with husks on for up to one week.

Final Ward

Knowing when to pick your corn could be tricky since even a small ear may be ready for harvest. It is essential to be aware of the number of days your variety of corn takes till harvest. Check also for the silk as it will change its light blond color to dark brown, which indicates that you can pick it.  

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