The Q&A Archives: When to Pick Corn

Question: This may sound silly, however I have planted corn for the first time. My corn looks great, however I do not know how to tell when the corn is ready to be picked.

Answer: Congratulations on a good crop of sweet corn! Usually the seed packet will give you an indication of roughly how long that particular variety takes to maturity, but it is important to watch for signs of ripeness so you can harvest it as early as possible. The corn silks darken and dry out as the ears mature, and as the kernels fill in the cob toward the top the top will become fuller rather than pointy. Check to see if they are filling in at the top by opening some, and also stick your fingernail in some kernels. If a milk-like juice comes out it's ready! (This is called the milk stage and that's when sweet corn is the sweetest.) The sugar in sweet corn turns to starch very fast once the corn is picked, so try to cook it and eat it right away or chill it immediately after picking to preserve the quality. Enjoy!

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