New Japanese Sweet Corn

By Charlie Nardozzi

Supersweet corn varieties created a revolution in the corn world when they were introduced because they allowed gardeners to harvest and keep sweet corn for weeks in the summer. However, some gardeners have objected to the sometimes tough texture and extra-sweet taste of these new hybrids.

A new supersweet corn variety is changing that perception. 'Mirai' (meaning "taste" in Japanese) gained its notoriety in Japan, although it's a hybrid that was originally created in Illinois. The attraction is a sweet taste that's not as sugary as other supersweet types; succulent kernels that are more tender than other supersweet types; and low starch content. However, because 'Mirai' can't be harvested by machine, large commercial growers weren't interested. The seed made its way to Japan, where many of the sweet corn farmers are small scale, often working by hand. Its popularity spread like wildfire, and in a few years it had captured 35 percent of the sweet corn market. Inspired by this success in Japan, American market farmers have started growing 'Mirai', and now seed is available to home gardeners as well.

'Mirai' produces disease-tolerant plants that grow 6 to 7 feet tall, producing 7-inch-long yellow or bicolored ears. The ears hold their sweetness for up to six weeks if refrigerated. 'Mirai' should be isolated from other non-supersweet varieties for best flavor. The seed is finicky about germinating in cool soils, so it should be planted later and shallower than other sweet corn varieties.

For more information on 'Mirai', go to: Park Seed.

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