when to pick corn?

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Hi All,
I am trying to grow 'Ruby Queen Hybrid" corn this year again. last year it only got about 1-1/2 foot high. This year they are getting about 5 to 6 foot tall. And I am starting to get some ears.
Question: is there a good way to tell when it is time to pick the ears?
I see all kinds of advice on you tube as to "how" to pick corn, but not a lot about "when" to pick it. I got someone saying to peal back a bit of the husk. But I really do not like this idea as it will expose my ears to all kinds of bugs and I am try to grow organically.
Any words of wisdom?
Many thanks, -T
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Todd wrote:

I assume you are growing sweet corn. You do need to peel back the husk to examine the kernels, you can fold it back where it was if you decide not to pick. Determining the readiness takes a little practice, the kernels need to be full and plump and when you squeeze some juice out with your fingernail the juice should be milky. If the corn is tasteless you have picked too soon, if it is chewy and starchy you have left it too late.
D
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Todd said:

Feel the ears. The husk should be tight, no 'give' left when you squeeze.
Peeking if you must, carefully, and tie back the husk closed if the ear isn't ready.
I think it is safe to assume that you are eager, so there is almost no chance of letting the corn go too long!
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

"Yes, swooping is bad."
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That's easy. Humans consider it ripe about 2 days after the raccoons get it. <g>
Or about 18-25 days after pollination.
Do you know how to pick "store corn" by examining the silks and feeling the kernels through the husk? If so, just use the same technique. Otherwise, pick one ear as your sacrificial ear... pull back husks a bit near the tip and squish a well developed kernel. You're looking for a kernel in the milk to very early soft dough stage -- you should get a milky, sweet juice squirting out from the kernel you've punctured. If it's more like a dough than milk, it's a little late for most people to enjoy as sweet corn. Agronomists would call the "good stuff" in R3 or early R4: http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/rowcrops/a1173/a1173-2.htm#Reproductive
If the kernels are not well filled and the juice seems watery, replace the husks you've pulled back and try a different kernel the next day, until it's at your desired degree of ripeness.
Then compare the colors of the silks beyond the husks and just at the very tip, barely inside the ears. The silks will be pretty dry and brown beyond the husks, but still yellow-white just as they get to the husks. Outer husks should be dark green.
Find another ear in your corn patch that looks similar to the test ear in feel of the kernels through the husk, husk color and silk colors. Pick that one and have it for lunch. If it's the ripeness you like, you now know that you can recognize ripe by the silk and husk color.
Leave that sacrificial ear unpicked and test a kernel every day -- you'll also soon find what "past its prime" looks like.
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On 08/16/2011 08:42 AM, Kay Lancaster wrote:

Actually, I don't. My corn, so far, comes frozen in plastic bags with no cobs in sight. And purchased in a grocery store WHERE NO PLANTS OR ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE PROCESS! :-D
Thank you for the help.
-T
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Actually, the field had to be cleared of native plants before sowing the corn. The native plants, in turn, gave habitat to animals. All gone. Much of the corn that is grown is for animal feed, and only because "Feed Lots" typically slaughter at 6 months, do the beef not get stomach ulcers, but it can't be pleasant, nonetheless. More over, you don't know if the packing house where your corn came from has rats, or bats or some other enteric bacteria vector. You don't know if, or what chemicals have been used on the corn to make it a bright yellow, to lengthen its shelf life, or to sterilize it before packaging. Lastly, you don't know if the plastic bag of corn has been kept cold. Every bite you take into the unknown is an act of faith.
Good luck,

--
- Billy
Both the House and Senate budget plan would cut Social Security and Medicare,
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On 08/16/2011 02:00 PM, Billy wrote:

EEEWWW!
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Oh dear... this sounds like when I moved from Iowa to Oregon. I was sorting through a pile of corn in the store (most of it picked too old), and rejecting about 98% of it. Produce manager had apparently never seen anyone *not* pull the husks back on the corn and do the fingernail test. So I taught him how to age-grade it by husks and silks.
I've taught that skill more than a few times out here... most puzzling to a midwesterner who grew up picking corn. <g>
Anyhow, I recommend you try the sacrificial ear method, and take photos of what you're seeing every day or two, and spend some time feeling up the husks <vbg>. Or if you do have a good produce department around (or better yet, farmers' markets or roadside stands), ask someone selling corn to teach you what you're looking for.
Especially at a real farmer's market, where the vendors have to be the growers, you can learn a lot about picking good produce just by asking. Really good grocery stores with really good produce managers can also be useful. Quick test of produce managers: if the tomatoes and peaches are brought out of a cooler, this is not where you want to ask for quality lessons...
And since you only really know corn in a bag: 1) If, when you're ready to cook, you grab the silks and husks on one side of the ear and peel them back all together, and then do the other half, you'll have few excess silks to pick off the ear. If you're dainty about it, it'll take you forever to husk corn. 2) The tip end (silk end) of corn cobs rarely fills out completely. Don't worry if the last inch is feeling kind of thin and the kernels are small or missing. 3) If you're growing corn at home and planting several batches at several dates, plant in squarish blocks rather than a row for each date. That helps with pollination. If you're not growing many corn plants (<20 or so), I'd suggest hand pollination, or your ears will likely have a lot of "blanks" (undeveloped kernels). Break off a portion of tassel that seems to be releasing pollen, and shake it over the silks of each ear, every morning, for a week after the pollen starts releasing. Tedious, but the difference in yield per ear can be pretty amazing. (amaizing???) Each kernel has its own silk, and that kernel isn't going to develop unless the silk is pollinated.
Kay, who grew up eating dent corn (feed corn) in early milk stage, and sweet corn in late milk/soft dough.
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This is new to me and fascinating. I won't be making use of it because I'm limited to one ear per summer due to dietary restrictions, but it's still fascinating.
Thank you!
Priscilla
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If you have a garden and a composter, you are missing out on a treat.
My local supermarket puts a trash can near the corn bin to let people husk their corn before they take it home. I bring a huge trash bag to the matket this time of year and take all the husks home, and put them straight into the compost. They rot really fast, even if you don't shred them (cobs are another matter- 2 years for those guys, so I just recycle them into the bin).
Back in the day when I grabbed a couple of little plastic bags of husks and the checkout girl looked at me funny, I explained that my guinea pig loved the husks (and she did, and feeding her them cured her of scurvy- did you know guinea pigs, like humans, are one of the few mammals that cannot produce ascorbic acid? I found out when all of Brownie's fur fell out(
But now I am unapologetic. After all, I am doing them a favor by reducing their trash load.
Chris
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wrote:

When the grill is hot... no one boils corn anymore... no grill, microwave.
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Brooklyn1 <Gravesend1> wrote in

Actually, I like to boil corn for a few minutes (not more than 5) a few hours before it is to go on the grill. Grilling corn takes a lot more fuel than boiling, and- is parboiling the right term?- parboiling it makes for a lot less time on the grill. This is especially true when I am grilling for company, since I know it will be ready when the steaks/chops/burgers/dogs are done.
Chris
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Start checking when the silks begin to brown.
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I make a tiny slit in the husk and stick my finger into a grain. If juice squirts out, it's ready.
The aperture, which I then close, is so tiny that it wouldn't admit pests (if there are any). I've never had a cob go back because of checking this way.
HN
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On 2011-08-19, Higgs Boson wrote:

So, no luck last year.

OK, but a better way, wait a bit until the silk is turning brown, wait some more then feel the top of the ear and see if it has filled out. Then take a look at the corn by pulling back a bit of the husk, put a finger nail into a kernal and see if it runs a nice milky white color. It's ready. Peel and eat right there or stick into a micorwave for a minute then peal the husk and eat hot. I prefer no butter, your choice.
--
Bud

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Heh! That's what I actually do -- peel and eat on the spot. SO sweet! Doesn't need anything, least of all having the goodness boiled away in a pot of water. Feh! BTW - It's "kernel", but you get a pass because you eat corn right.
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On 2011-08-20, Higgs Boson wrote:

Oh, yeah, kernal in Linux speak.
--
Bud

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On 08/20/2011 01:19 PM, Bud wrote:

Bud's User-Agent: slrn/0.9.9p1 (Linux)
Todd's User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:5.0) Gecko/20110624 Thunderbird/5.0
So, I am not the only Linux user! Very cool. Thank you for the tip!
Do you guys leave the husks on when you microwave them? (I can't help myself, I do like butter!)
-T
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My neighbor, a Linux freak, tried to get me to use it.* Put it on my computer; I actually started a little, then had to back off, as the computer needed a fresh reinstall; too many things going wrong. When I get up the nerve, I will hit Ubuntu again.
* (Of course neighbor is light years ahead of me, technically!)
HB
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On 08/20/2011 08:16 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

Try to get his to put this one on instead:
http://spins.fedoraproject.org/xfce /
-T
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