Corn question

btbarbara(7b/8a)August 12, 2011

How do YOU know when it's time to pick corn? I've been reading lots of different ways to tell but just like melons, I'm afraid it might take some practice to get it just right. Unfortunately, unlike melons, I don't have nearly as much room for error with the corn.

I planted ferry-morse golden cross bantam hybrid (I think that's it) on 6/14 just as an experiment. It's supposed to be 88 days to maturity. The first silks starting forming about 2 weeks ago and just as soon as they did, I started hand pollinating (I've got ~15 stalks crammed right on top of each other but still wanted to be sure). A couple of times a day, I'd run my hand along a tassle and collect some pollen and sprinkle on the silks. Digging around in there searching usually shook things up enough to really get some pollen flying too. It stormed really bad a couple of times during those few days that the silks were popping out right and left so I'm not sure if that helped with pollination or just washed everything away.

Anyway, I'm a little suprised but I have quite a few ears of corn growing and some of them look respectable right now. I read yesterday that they should be ready to pick about 3 weeks after silks form (that seems really fast!) but the ferry-morse site says about 6 weeks after silks form. 6 weeks would be about 85 days from planting which is right at what the seed packet says. I also read that you know it's time when the silks turn brown. A couple of the first silks that formed (theoretically, the ones that should have been pollinated the best and have the potential to be perfect) are completely dried up and brown already. It just seems WAAAAY too early to pick them but I don't want to leave them too long if they're ready now. How can I tell? If the silks are already all brown and all this early, does that mean something went wrong with those ears? Or could the sun and heat have just taken a toll on the silks while the ears inside are still growing well?

Any tips or advice are appreciated!

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Barbara - I have been working on a post on my blog on this very subject because I have had some of the same questions as you. Please see the information below. I hope it helps you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Knowing when to harvest corn

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 12:12AM
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You are my new hero...definitely following your blog! Headed out to the garden now...thank you!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 7:04AM
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Barbara, far from a hero here, but I am glad you found the information helpful. Be safe, it is pretty hot out there.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 12:22PM
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I hadn't noticed how much my stalks were leaning over till I went outside after reading your post. Some of my silks are definitely completely dry and brown. I opened up one ear that I thought might be ready but all I saw were teeny tiny little kernels so I closed it back up and decided to wait. Patience is a virtue...

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 1:20PM
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Barbara, can you post any pictures of your corn or the ear you opened up? This may help us gauge how much longer you got. Make sure you are watering deeply during the silking process also.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 2:02PM
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Actually, I went to the grocery store this afternoon and stood there in the produce section like a dork "feeling" all the ears of corn to give myself something to compare when I feel mine. The lady next to me was ripping open every one and looking at them and I noticed that one she opened up, the very tip looked just like the one I did but the rest of the cob was fine. So when I got home, I peeled the husk back a little further and sure enough, there was a little green caterpillar or worm curled up in there, just below where I'd looked this morning, munching away. Above him, tiny shriveled looking mess, below him, full yellow kernels. I popped one and it was milky so I went ahead and picked that one and just chopped off the part my guest had been munching on. It's boiling now. None of the others looked even close to ready which is fine...I'm by myself this weekend so one is plenty :D

This batch of cayennes are finally turning red and my new tomatoes and peppers have blooms today so that should be fun. Also picked two watermelons (already have one more in the fridge). All but two of my cucumber plants had died and these last two were really struggling. Not sure if it's bugs or disease or gardener error but I picked what cucs I could today and pulled those plants up. Haven't decided if I'll replant them for fall or not. I've already got about 30 jars of pickles put up but those grow so fast and produce so well they tend to keep me motivated when everything else slows down. And between my oldest and me, we can eat a jar of pickles in one sitting!

Since I couldn't wait for my jalapenos to ripen, I picked some up at the store today. Time for fresh corn on the cob and bacon wrapped stuffed poppers!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 4:37PM
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Excellent Barbara, I was thinking that could have been the case. That is very common for the tips to be a little mushy from silk worms. I do the same thing, just cut that part off and your good to go. This is why you have to pull it back just a little farther than the tip when checking kernels.

Sounds like you have a good meal going. Good luck to you, glad it worked out.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 6:04PM
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That was the best corn I've had in a while! I'm still just in shock that I grew it a faux-rubbermaid tub no less! Can't let the boys find out I ate the first one without them. I think I want to be a farmer when I grow up. :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 6:25PM
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Yeah, it is certainly an addictive hobby. You will not want to eat store bought corn now that you have grown your own. That is the only downside to growing your own vegetables, they taste so good, they will turn you into a veggie snob. :)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 6:38PM
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