Harvesting Corn

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Tue Feb 17 18:20:23 EST 1998

At 5:25 PM -0500 2/17/98, Eric Grunden wrote:
>BMed137 wrote:
>> >I'm hoping someone can help with this?  How do you know when to harvest
>> >>corn?
>				*******
>I guess it really depends on who you are and what you're doing.
>If you are a;
>	farmer - harvest when it dries down to a marketable moisture content
>	plant pathologist - when it looks sickest
>	vagabond - when the farmer isn't looking
>	physiologist - when it looks like peak metabolic activity is occurring
>	agronomy student - when it's doing what's needed to support your thesis
>	gardener - when grain fill is complete and kernel sugars are high
>	seed producer - before the fiscal quarter ends
>	Mexican - when corn smut (a delicacy) is swollen but not burst
>	taxonomist - when identifiable characteristics are developed
>	economist - when it makes the most financial sense
>	environmentalist - never, let it go free
>	paleobotanist - a couple thousand years ago
>	biotechnologist - when you've gotten it to produce nodules

Nice humor--and quite serious too!  Those distinctions
are real in many cases.  What was missed was the one
I think was being asked:

Seriously, if you are talking sweet corn for human
consumption, most people start checking when the
silks (stigmata) have started to turn brown.  Then
people usually feel the ear for the enlarged kernels
and harvest when the ear feels full and rippling with
kernels.  Some people carefully peel the husk from the
tip of the ear and look for the shape and color of the
kernels.  Some like their sweet corn very young (sweet
but lacking full flavor) others like it older (starch
develping but full flavor).  Then, many people swear
you want to cook it right away and eat it before any
more sugar is converted to starch.  Some fanatics take
the boiling water into the garden and put the ears in
it as soon as they get the husk off.  Sounds dangerous
to me...spilling boiling water on my feet in a garden
is not my idea of fun.

Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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