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
Question: is there a good way to tell when it is time to pick
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
Any words of wisdom?
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.
Feel the ears. The husk should be tight, no 'give' left when you
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
Both the House and Senate budget plan would cut Social Security and Medicare,
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Bud's User-Agent: slrn/0.9.9p1 (Linux)
Todd's User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:5.0) Gecko/20110624
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!)
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!)
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