Harvesting Sweetcorn

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Bluebirdbank

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Harvesting Sweetcorn
« on: August 12, 2009, 12:17 »
Hi everyone, new to this, but we're in the sunny (well , not today, it's chucking it down) West Midlands/worcestershire - have the address for the former, but are actually in the latter
Anyhow, our sweetcorn has gone mad this year - obviously likes the mix of sun and rain we're having, and is about 7 feet tall
HAve got it to grow to waist height before, but never got corn of it, never really got going, but I wonder if its because, instead of growing from seed this year, we bought ready germinated plants of about 3 inches from local garden centre - only because they were selling them off at 50p a pot!!
Anyhow, we have about 3 cobs on each stem, and it must be almost ready because they look quite fat, but can anyone tell me a definitive way of knowing when they're ready. I've been peeling back the husks to look, and they've been looking creamy white, but I've not looked in the last few days - and I see from the diary that this is not a good idea as it lets the bugs in. I also see that it suggests when the tassles go brown, but does that mean the silks, or the flowers on top - the flowers are certainly brown, which is one of the things I always thought meant they were ripe, and the silks are going brown.But unless they've changed in the last few days, the cobs are still not yellow (or could they be further in if we peeled the husks back further?)
I've traditionally bought fresh cobs from a farm in  the cotswolds, - not that far from us- at Bank Holiday - so  imagine that is the time when they might get ripe, but it must also depend on the variety, when they were planted, and this years weather
Any good advice out there?
Thanks
Angela and Ciaran (13)
PS At present building  a barbie so they can go straight on when they're picked, and looking forward to them - never had them straight of the plant before! :D

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tode

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2009, 13:54 »
Bluebird, wait till the silks are really brown and start to get a bit dry-looking (1st pic).
The grains at the (silk) end often stay small and white, but the rest should be pale creamy-yellow).
The male flowers at the top dry off long before the corns ready.
Couldnt help showing off ours. Well really its Madame who sowed 'em, so she should take the credit  ;)

Dont forget: plenty of butter.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm  :tongue2: :tongue2:
corn silks.jpg
corn&annick.jpg

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mickwood

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2009, 15:36 »
Bluebird,

I've also heard on this forum that if you expose them stick your nail into a kernel - if the 'juice' is milky then they're ready, if it's clear; they're not.

Good luck....mine are just starting to appear!!  :D

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Kristen

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2009, 16:54 »
Some random thoughts:

"we bought ready germinated plants of about 3 inches from local garden centre ... is about 7 feet tall"

Sounds like they are a conventional variety.  I have always considered them a bit hit and miss because they need a pretty long growing season.

The varieties bred to suit the UK climate mature with a shorter season.

I expect the seed is all F1, and more expensive, and maybe Garden Centres don't use them to reduce their costs.

Of the varieties I have grown recently:

They have been short (4' to 5' max), and I suspect that is partly how they make them mature earlier.

They have been the "super sweet" varieties. Their taste is magnificent - all our visitors have been well impressed, and think I am some kind of Ace in the vegetable department; I haven't let on  :tongue2:

Having said that, they are supposedly more difficult to germinate. They came coated in fungicide (keep out of reach of children, wash your hands :( ) and I germinated them on damp kitchen paper (pretty much 100% germination) and planted immediately the roots appeared (only a day or two) into Richy's newspaper pots.

They cannot be grown with other varieties nearby [including any near neighbours, as they are wind pollinated, so club together and plant the same variety :) ], as cross pollination affects the sweetness

Finally, which ever variety you are growing, have the pan boiling on the stove before you go to pick them, and hurry back. The sugar starts changing to starch the moment they are picked. Don't pick-for-the-fridge, nor for tomorrow :)

"At present building  a barbie so they can go straight on when they're picked,"

I have read that they should be put straight into a bucket of water as picked for, I think, 30 minutes, then cook with their cob's outer leaves etc. still on (dunno if you also wrap in tinfoil, that's how we used to do shop bought ones)

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realfood

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2009, 19:27 »
Just a small clarification. You can plant the latest breeding of "tendersweet", extra tender and sweet sweetcorn without worrying about other varieties planted nearby, according to the suppliers.

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Kristen

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2009, 19:41 »
I have seen that on some packets, not on others though.

I thought my Unwins "Kelvedon Glory" said it was OK near other sweet corn, but there is no relevant info on the seed packet (which may imply the same, of course).

My Suttons "Swift F1" says "Do not grow near other sweet corn"

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Trillium

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2009, 21:48 »
That warning is a bit dubious, Kristen, as F1s are not for saving seed, only a variety which you might want to come true to the original breeding. I find most sweet corns are quite nice and if an F1 is pollinated by them, its often just as nice.

For bluebirdbank's original question - it's definitely the extra sun, heat and rain the UK got this year which is boosting corn yields over there. Corn is a true heat lover and without enough, as well as sun, they just won't produce well regardless of what country they're bred for. Enjoy it this year because next year will probably revert back to the same lousy UK weather and poor corn yields  ;)

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Kristen

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 22:04 »
"That warning is a bit dubious, Kristen, as F1s are not for saving seed,"

Indeed, but with Sweetcorn its the seed you eat, rather than the "fruit", so I can see that altering the genetics could make a difference.

Pretty sure there were conversations here (in the Spring??) about folk that had co-ordinated with neighbours to grow the same variety after having poor-tasting results. But at my age memory is a dangerous thing to trust to :(

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Bluebirdbank

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 22:07 »
 Enjoy it this year because next year will probably revert back to the same lousy UK weather and poor corn yields  ;)
[/quote]

Thanks a lot !!! I would say we were having lousy weather this year - so much for our promised 'barbeque summer'!!!  But at least my  hol at the end of May was excellent weather, and Wimbledon, and Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park, were glorious!!!!!

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Trillium

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 22:09 »
I recall that topic, Kristen, but I strongly suspect it was more a lack of good weather, not enough manure (corn are worse manure hogs than potatoes) and not enough nitrogen (absolutely necessary for good corn production). If the weather is wrong, nothing will make corn grow well.

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Kristen

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Re: Harvesting Sweetcorn
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2009, 08:20 »
I did nothing with mine this year, just chucked them in. Although the beds had a reasonable manure mulch at the begining of the year. No supplementary fertilizer. Wasn't organised enough. I am a lousy veg-father :D They have tasted pretty good though.

So next year I'll try harder on the feeding front, and hope for even better things - or same-as-this-year if it turns out to be a less good growing year.



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