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Last year I grew a little stand (4x4) of short-season corn. I hand-pollinated it and everything was growing great. But I waited a little too long, I guess, and when I picked it, my corn tasted horribly starchy.

What is the best way to know when to pick it?

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In addition to other people's answer, my mom recommend not to touch the corn when they are not ripe. –  lamwaiman1988 Jun 9 '11 at 14:53
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When you grow sweet corn for a while, you will get experienced and will be able to feel the ears when they are maturing and see if they are ripe. –  J. Musser Dec 19 '11 at 2:54
    
Number one cause of starchy corn is the variety you choose to plant. Number two is time between harvest and cooking. Don't pick it, then leave it around for a day or two. Put the pot on to boil then go and pick it. Truly. –  Kate Gregory Jan 11 '12 at 2:19

3 Answers 3

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One way of telling if your corn is ready is by looking at the little tuft of fine silky corn hair that hangs out from the husk. If it is nice and dark till the tip of the husk, it is ready to be harvested. If it is still pale and light in color, then you ought to wait a little longer.

You can also peel back the layers at the very top just a little and see if the corn kernels there are ready. If they are, then the rest of the corn is ready too. You can also tell if they are nice and juicy by feeling them or pricking them. This is perhaps the best stage to harvest them. If you wait longer, as you say, it will taste starchy and chewy.

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How many days are there until maturity listed about the species? A lot of info can be gathered by looking up a specific species or by noting any information on seed packages or tags (if bought as juvenile) that come with the corn in addition to the other answers posted here.

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A further way of making sure it is ripe is by pulling back part of the sheath and squeezing a grain or two between fingernail and thumbnail; if the liquid that squirts out is watery, the cob is unripe; if it is light and creamy, the cob is ready. If the liquid is thick, you have waited too long.

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