The Q&A Archives: Corn Seeds

Question: I am new to gardening and wonder where corn seeds come from. Can a good ear of corn be used to plant then kernels as that is what seeds for corn look like? If so how do you do it?

Answer: The kernels are indeed the seeds. Unfortunately, kernels from corn we can purchase at the market will not be viable seed. In order to save your own seed you need to start with an open-pollinated variety and grow it in isolation from other types of corn so it will not cross pollinate (or isolate and protect specific ears for subsequent hand pollinating). To harvest ears for seed, allow them to sit on the plants for about a month past normal picking time so they begin to dry, pick them before a hard freeze and continue to dry them. When fully dry, the ears need to be shelled (kernels removed). Only the fully developed kernels should be kept for planting and they should be planted the following year since seed corn is only viable for a year or possibly two. All in all it is quite a bit of work and effort to grow your own seed corn and this is why most gardeners purchase fresh seed each spring.

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