when-to-harvest-corn

When to Harvest Your Corn Crop

It is very satisfying to look out at your corn crop and see the plants grow tall and healthy. Gardening is hard work, and to have a successful harvest you need to invest time and energy into providing the perfect environment for your corn to flourish. All of your work will be for naught if you do not know when to pick your corn.

Know What Kind of Corn You Planted

The first thing you need to know regarding when your corn is ready to be picked is what kind of corn you planted. Different varieties of corn mature at different times, and you cannot expect to start picking your corn by July 4th if you planted a crop that requires 100 days to develop.

If you planted an early-ripening variety of sweet corn, you could be ready to pick and eat it a mere 60 days after planting. For other varieties, especially roasting ears, you can anticipate harvest in about 100 days after planting.

Tip: To be sure when to pick your ears of corn, look at the seeds packet. It will give you an approximate number of days from planting to harvest.

Know What Ripe Corn Looks Like

Regardless of whether the corn you planted is sweet corn or field corn, the signs to check for ripeness are the same.

  • Count the days after the tassel of corn silk appears. Harvest is about 20 days after it shows up.
  • The husk of each ear of corn will be dark green with stiff leaves.
  • The corn silk will change from light yellow to brown.
  • You can feel the kernels through the husk.

Tip: You can also peel the husk away from the tip of the corn to see if the kernels have filled out. As long as you do not remove the cob from the plant, slightly peeling the husk back will not kill the ear.

If You Planted Popcorn or Field Corn

The growing requirements are the same for field corn and popcorn as they are sweet corn, but the harvest time is different. Instead of picking the corn at the peak of ripeness, you leave popcorn and field corn in the field until it is dry.

Although you can eat field corn just like you eat sweet corn, most people grow this type of corn to grind into cornmeal or use for animal food. You leave the corn on the stalks in the garden until the husks are a pale yellow or brown and the corn inside is dry and hard. You should not be able to dent the corn even with a sharp nail.

You also need to be sure popcorn is completely dry before harvest. Otherwise, you will not get that satisfying explosion from heating the kernels. In short, your popcorn will not pop!

Tip: If the weather is damp, you can also harvest the popcorn or field corn ears and allow them to continue drying in a well-ventilated area. If the corn kernels are too moist, you take the risk of them rotting and ruining the entire crop.

How to Harvest Corn

No matter the variety you planted, you harvest all types of corn the same way. Just grab the ear firmly and pull it downward, twisting it as you pull. The cob should come off the stalk easily. You can also use a sharp knife to cut the ear of corn from the stalk.

However you choose to harvest your corn, you will enjoy the fresh taste that makes the work well worth it.