Types of sweet corn

RECOMMENDED SWEETCORN VARIETIES

Growing sweetcorn in an area exposed to wind can be a big problem so varieties which are relatively low growing can be a great advantage. Below we list those varieties of sweetcorn which we believe are worthwhile for growing in the UK climate and we list their advantages and disadvantages.

Beware of the descriptions given by the seed merchants for sweetcorn, they are almost always very over-optimistic!

CONQUEROR

A well-proven variety which always receives a good deal of support in gardening forums throughout the UK. This is a supersweet variety which produces long cobs in mid to late season. The plants are on the tall side so would need staking in windy sites.

Restrict this variety to one cob per plant and then expect a cob of about 22cm / 9in long. Cobs are generally well-filled and look very attractive.

The RHS reconfirmed their Award of Garden Merit status for Conqueror in 2013. This variety is widely available not only from garden centres but also from online seed suppliers.

EARLIBIRD

A supersweet variety which is true to its name, producing delicious cobs early in the season. One of the best supersweet varieties for the UK climate. One or two cobs are produced per plant and each cob will average 22cm / 9in long.

The RHS reconfirmed their Award of Garden Merit status for Earlibird (initially given in 2003). This variety is widely available not only from garden centres but also from online seed suppliers.

Because Earlibird is a supersweet variety of sweetcorn, it is best not grown with other varieties.

GOLDCREST

A relatively new supersweet variety which has been awarded an AGM byt the RHS in 2016. Our own trials in 2019 found it to be average rather than outstanding. Read our full review of Goldcrest here.

Sweetcorn variety Goldcrest grown on our allotment

LARK

An extra tendersweet variety which has thin tender skins and lots of sweet flavour. Cobs are produced in mid-season. We grew this variety on our West Midlands allotment in 2017 and they reached maturity in late August.

A very reliable and well-proven sweetcorn which tolerates cooler growing conditions. Restrict plants to two cobs and expect a well-filled cob about 20cm / 8in long.

Sweetcorn Variety Lark grown on our allotment

The RHS reconfirmed their Award of Garden Merit status for Lark sweetcorn in 2016 (initially given in 2003). The final height is around 6ft / 180cm and they withstood a few harsh wind even at that final height on our allotment. We highly recommend this variety, very sweet, tender and tasty.

This variety is widely available not only from garden centres and also from online seed suppliers.

HONEYDEW

Another extra tendersweet variety, this one has the most tender skins of all. Easily capable of producing two, maybe three, good cobs per plant.

MIRAI 003

Supersweet type which normally produces two cobs per plant. Very sweet, reliable performer in the UK weather. This variety has so much going for it that we have produced an individual page for it which can be found here.

Because Mirai 003 is a supersweet variety of sweetcorn, it is best not grown with other varieties.

NORTHERN XTRA SWEET

An extra tendersweet which is well suited to the UK weather even in the North of the country. New varieties however have left it behind as far as flavour and texture are concerned – the skins of the individual kernels are tougher then normal. Not tall so they withstand the the wind better than many.

PRELUDE

If you want a long sweetcorn then prelude is probably the best variety. It’s a supersweet which is an early cropper.

Because Prelude is a supersweet variety of sweetcorn, it is best not grown with other varieties.

SPARROW

Sparrow is an extra tendersweet variety which we trialed in 2018 on our West Midlands allotment. The plant is average height and withstood quite harsh winds during the early summer with only one falling over slightly. We left the fallen sweetcorn to its own devices and it still produced one decent sized cob.

The average length of the cobs were 23cm / 9in with, in almost all cases, all of the individual kernels fully formed. There were very few gaps in the sweetcorn. You can expect between 1 and 2 cobs per plant, the warmer your area the more likely you are to get two cobs per plant.

Sparrow sweetcorn variety

The variety Sparrow tastes sweet, of that there is no doubt. Individual kernels are slightly larger than normal, which we prefer. They boil to a deep yellow and look exceptionally good on the plate.

It’s slightly difficult to be certain how they grow in cooler areas because the summer of 2018 was exceptionally warm over an extended period of time. Clearly they grow well in warm conditions. The RHS trials of 2016 grew this variety in both Rosemoor (Devon) and Wisley (Surrey) and they were given an AGM. We would agree with that verdict, this is an exceptionally good variety for most of the UK.

One fact became clear from our trials of this variety in 2018 and that concerned the watering requirements of sweetcorn. The summer of 2018, in most areas of the UK, had a very, very low amount of rainfall for three months.

Aside from watering the plants when they were initially planted, we were only able to water the sweetcorn once during that period because of lack of a water supply. These near drought conditions had no effect whatsoever on the sweetcorn – the cobs were still full and juicy.

The probable reason for this lack of need for hand watering was that we mulched the entire sweetcorn bed with 5cm / 2in of woodchip. Whereas other areas of our allotment dried out completely, the soil underneath the mulch remained mainly moist.

A lesson learned for us, it’s clear the roots of sweetcorn are better at extracting moisture from the soil than we thought especially with a good layer of mulch.

SWIFT

One of our favourites for no reason other than reliability and superb sweet taste. Cobs are about 22cm / 9in long and well filled with straight rows. Swift is an extra tendersweet variety.

We trialed this variety on our allotment in 2018. The skins on the kernels is one of the thinnest of all. Expect two cobs on most plants early in the season and well suited to the UK climate. Slightly shorter than average so withstands windy conditions well.

Swift sweetcorn variety

One problem that has been reported with this variety is that large amounts of the seeds fail to germinate. For this reason, read carefully the advice we give about sowing sweetcorn seeds which can be found here.

Our own personal experience concerning germination of this variety is good. Originally given an RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2003, this was reconfirmed in 2012.

Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our new
Sweetcorn comment / question and answer page
lists those comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.

Sweet Corn Varieties – Top Sweet Corn Cultivars To Grow In Gardens

There’s nothing quite like a side dish of corn or an ear of freshly boiled corn on the cob. We appreciate the unique taste of this sugary vegetable. Corn is considered a vegetable when harvested for eating, but it may also be considered a grain or even a fruit. There are different sweet corn varieties placed into three categories, due to sugar content. Let’s take a look at those types of sweet corn and some sweet corn cultivars.

About Sweet Corn Plants

Corn is categorized by its sugar into “standard or normal sugary (SU), sugar enhanced (SE) and supersweet (Sh2),” according to sweet corn info. These types also vary by how quickly they should be consumed or put up and the vigor of the seed. Some sources say there are five categories of corn, others say six, but these include different varieties, like popcorn. Not all corn will pop, so you must have a special kind that turns itself inside out when high heat is applied.

Blue corn is similar to sweet yellow corn but filled with the same healthy antioxidant that gives blueberries their coloring. These are called anthocyanins. Blue corn is one of the oldest varieties known.

Growing Sweet Corn Cultivars

If you’re considering planting sweet corn in your field or garden, take these factors into consideration before choosing the variety you will grow.

Pick a type of corn that is a favorite of your family. Find a type that grows from an open-pollinated, heirloom seed as opposed to a genetically modified organism (GMO). Corn seed, unfortunately, was among the first edibles to be affected by GMO, and that has not changed.

Hybrid types, a cross between two varieties, are usually designed for a bigger ear, faster growth, and more attractive and healthy sweet corn plants. We’re not always informed of other changes made to hybrid seeds. Hybrid seeds do not reproduce the same as the plant from which they came. These seeds should not be replanted.

Open-pollinated corn seeds are sometimes difficult to find. It is easier to find non-GMO blue corn seeds than bicolor, yellow, or white. Blue corn may be a healthy alternative. It grows from open-pollinated seed. Blue corn still grows in many fields in Mexico and the southwest U.S. It has 30 percent more protein than most other types. However, if you want to grow a more traditional corn crop, look for seeds of:

  • Sugar Buns: Yellow, early, SE
  • Temptress: Bicolor, second-early season grower
  • Enchanted: Organic, bicolor, late-season grower, SH2
  • Natural Sweet: Organic, bicolor, midseason grower, SH2
  • Double Standard: The first open-pollinated bicolor sweet corn, SU
  • American Dream: Bicolor, grows in all warm seasons, premium taste, SH2
  • Sugar Pearl: Sparkling white, early season grower, SE
  • Silver Queen: White, late season, SU

Corn Varieties to Grow include Standard corn–the “old-fashioned” corn your grandfather grew; the corn with tasty corn flavor. Many of these varieties are heirlooms and open-pollinated.

There is no substitute for the flavor of corn just picked from the garden.

Flavor and adaptability to your garden’s climate are the major considerations when choosing a corn variety. There are three types of fresh-eating sweet corn grouped by flavor: standard corn, sugary enhanced corn, and supersweet corn (adaptability to your garden’s climate–the soil and air temperature–is actually linked to the flavor type). Here’s how these corn types differ:

• Standard corn is the “old-fashioned” corn your grandfather grew; the corn with tasty corn flavor. These varieties–many are heirlooms and open-pollinated–have been around for years and years. Standard corn is plantable in cool soil, as cool as 55°F. This corn is best rushed to the kitchen and eaten within an hour of harvest.

• Sugary enhanced corn are hybrid varieties that keep their sweet flavor up to 3 days after harvest. Sugary enhanced hybrids give growers a 3-day window for harvest. (Near harvest time it is important to monitor standard corn each day to make sure you pick at the peak of its sweet flavor.) Sugary enhanced cultivars don’t require daily monitoring; pick sugary enhanced corn anytime within the 3 day peak flavor period. This type of corn demands soil temperatures about 10° warmer than standard corn.

• Supersweet corn are also hybrid varieties–the sweetest flavored of all corn. Supersweet corn varieties are sweeter than sugary enhanced varieties. Supersweets also have an enhanced harvest window of 2 to 3 days. One note, supersweet corn can be demanding: it requires soil no less than 65°F at planting time; it grows best when the soil is pre-warmed (cover beds with black plastic to warm the soil); and it is less vigorous than standard or sugary enhanced corn.

In addition to the best bets of these three types, also listed here are recommendations for popping, baby corn, and ornamental corn. Keep reading to the bottom of this post and I will give you my tips for sure-fired corn growing success.

Standard corn varieties:

• Butter and Sugar. 73 days. Bicolor white and yellow kernels, good flavor; 7 to 8 inch ears. Resists bacterial wilt and southern corn leaf blight.

• Golden Cross Bantam. 85 days. Large yellow kernels. Uniform ears 7½ to 8 inches long with 10 to 14 rows per ear. Sturdy stalk to 6 feet; very prolific. Resists bacterial wilt.

• Jubilee. 83 days. Sweet, tender, yellow kernels for fresh eating or processing. Large ears, 8 to 9 inches long with 16 rows. Strong sturdy stalks from 7 to 7½ feet. Resists smog and smut.

• Silver Queen. 88 days. Very sweet, tender, snow white kernels; ears 8 to 9 inches long with 14 to16 rows. Holds for several days without losing quality. Stalk grows 7½ to 8 feet tall. Widely adapted. Resists bacterial wilt and Stewart’s wilt.

Sugary enhanced corn varieties:

• Breeder’s Choice. 73 days. Extra sweet, tender, creamy, light yellow kernels. Stays sweet for 10 to 14 days after reaching maturity. Most stalks bear two ears, 16 to 18 full rows. Plant to 7 feet.

• Concord (Also called Moore’s Early Concord). Tender, sweet, bicolor kernels. Ears 6 to 8 inches long with 12 to 16 rows. Stalks to 5 feet. Early harvest.

• How Sweet It Is. 87 days. Sweet, tender, crisp, white kernels. Flavor hold well on stalks and in storage. Slightly tapered ears to 8 inches long with 18 to 22 rows of kernels. Stalks to 6½ feet tall, produce 2 ears per stalk. Widely adapted. All-America selection; resists most diseases.

• Kandy Korn. 89 days. Sweet, tender, golden yellow kernels. Excellent for freezing and canning. Uniform ears to 8 inches long with 16 to 18 rows. Stalks 8 to 9 feet tall. Adapts to wide range of climates.

Supersweet corn varieties:

• Early Xtra Sweet. 71 days. Extra sweet golden yellow kernels, small and tender. Uniform ears, 7 to 9 inches long with 12 to 16 rows of kernels. Vigorous plant, 5 to 6 feet tall. Ready 2 weeks earlier than Illini Xtra-Sweet. All-America selection; resists most diseases.

• Butterfruit Original Early. 72 days. Bright yellow kernels, savory flavor; tightly packed ears. Plant to 5 feet tall. Mature extra early.

• Sweetie. 82 days. Exceptionally sweet, tender-crisp, deep golden yellow kernels. Slightly tapered ears 7 to 8 inches long with 14 to 18 rows of kernels. Stalks to 6 feet. Retains sweetness for a long period, both in the field and when harvested. 30 percent fewer calories than regular corn. Excellent for home gardens.

• Illini Xtra Sweet. 85 days. Sweet, golden yellow kernels; 14 to 18 rows per ear. Plant to 6½ feet. Freezes well.

• Super-sweet Jubilee. 85 days. Super sweet, yellow kernels, 18 rows per ear. Plants to 8 feet. High yield.

Baby corn varieties:

• Baby Asian. Finger-size cobs with white kernels. Tender and delicately flavored. Use in stir fries, vegetable salads and pickles. Harvest shortly after silks appear.

Popcorn varieties:

• Black Popcorn. 100 days. Deep blue to black kernels that pop white with a blue tinge at base; rich flavor. Larger ears and kernels than standard popcorn.

• Gold Hybrid Popcorn. 105 days. Excellent quality popping corn; pops large.

• Peppy Hybrid. 90 days. Kernels pop large and tender. Small ears to 4 inches long. Stalks grow 5 to 6 feet tall; high yielding, 2 or 3 ears per stalk.

• White Cloud. 95 days. Tender, fluffy white, hull less popping corn with excellent flavor. Small plump ears to about 4 inches long, well-filled. High yield. Grows well in cooler regions.

Ornamental corn varieties:

• Indian Fingers. 110 days. Multicolored kernels: yellow, red, purple, orange kernels; cobs to 4 inches long; stalks from 6 to 7 feet.

• Rainbow. 90-112 days. Multicolored kernels. Indian corn. Large, smooth ears. Use for fall decorations, roasting or frying when young .Open pollinated.

• Strawberry Popcorn. 105 days. Cobs 2 to 3 inches long with ruby kernels resemble strawberries; plants grow to 4 feet tall. For popping or decoration. Kernels turn white when popped.

Corn Growing Success Tips:

Corn growing success will come with a few simple growing strategies:

Planting bed preparation. Choose a site with full sun. Choose a bed or site where corn can be planted on 2 to 3 foot squares or blocks. Planting in a block pattern will maximize pollination: corn is pollinated commonly by wind as the pollen falls from the male tassels to the female silks. Even and close proximity of stalks will enhance the opportunity for pollination.

Plant corn on small hills or in raised beds; corn prefers well-drained soil that warms quickly. In flat beds, turn the soil to 6 inches deep. Add plenty of aged compost to the planting area and dust with nitrogen-rich cottonseed meal or soybean meal (3 pounds per 100 square feet).

Planting time. Sow corn or set out small starts when the soil has warmed to at least 65°F, usually two to three weeks after the last frost in spring. Black plastic can be used to cover the soil in advance and prewarm the bed.

Care. Corn is a member of the grass family; it requires regular even moisture. Give corn 1to 2 inches of water each week. Place drip irrigation or a soaker hose near the base of stalks and cover with straw mulch to help keep the soil evenly moist. Side dress corn with aged compost every 3 to 4 weeks during the growing season.

Pest protection. Cover seeded beds with row covers to exclude birds, caterpillars, and beetles early on. Handpick caterpillars and beetles that attack mature plants. Apply 5 drops of vegetable oil to the silks on each ear as the silks begin to brown; this will turn away earworms.

Pollination. When tassels appear on the ears, gently shake stalks each day so that pollen will fall to the silks. Differing corn varieties planted in close proximity will likely result in cross-pollination. To avoid cross pollination sow different varieties at least 25 feet apart or time planting so that differing varieties are not flowering at the same time.

Harvest. Begin picking ears 3 weeks after the first silks appeared on stalks. When silks turn brown, check ears to make sure they are filled and begin picking. You can also squeeze a kernel with your fingernail: if white milky juice drips out, the ear is ripe. Popcorn should be left on the plant until the husks have fully dried.

More tips on How to Grow Corn.

Sweet, Sweeter, and Sweetest Sweet Corn

July 3, 2017 3:25 pm

By: Jessie Keith

Many bicolored corn varieties are both crisp and sweet.

Sweet corn is summer bliss, but not all ears are the same. So, what makes one type better than the other? It depends on your sweet tooth. Crisp sweet corn comes in different sugar levels, from supersweet to old-time sugary sweet. Here’s what you need to know to choose the best ears to suit your taste.

What Makes Sweet Corn Sweet?

The first sweet corn was sold to American gardeners in the 1820s (a white kerneled variety) and since then, sweeter, tenderer varieties have been developed each year. (One of the earliest varieties, ‘Golden Bantam’ (1902), is still popular today!) This is thanks to three sweet corn genetic groups (sugary (SU), sugar enhanced (SE) and supersweet (SH2)) that provide higher sugar content, less starch, and more tender kernels. New varieties bred from these genetic groups, labeled as synergistic (mix of SE and SH2 kernels on the same ear) and augmented supersweet (sugar amplified SH2), offer the sweetest taste. Gardeners looking for old-fashioned sweet corn with good flavor should look for older SU and SE varieties.

Kernel Size, Color, and Texture

Ripe corn is plump with well-developed kernels and silks that are brown at the top.

Kernel size, texture, and color should also vary between varieties as do ear size and kernel density. There are white, yellow, and bicolor (white and yellow) ears with kernels that are small and rounded, large and angular, or somewhere in between. Supersweet corn often has a crisp texture while sugary tends to have a firmer, creamier texture. Good seed vendors always provide this information to make it easy for gardeners to pick corn with their favorite characteristics.

Sugary Sweet Corn

These old-fashioned classic sweet corn varieties have great flavor, and while they have good sweetness, they are not extremely sugary. ‘Silver Queen’ (92 days) is a classic white sugary variety recognized for its crisp sweet kernels and high performance. For a great tasting yellow variety, try ‘Early Sunglow’ (63 days), which has shorter ears that are early to mature. A sweet and prolific bicolor is the old-fashioned, open-pollinated, pale yellow and white ‘Double Standard‘ (73 days).

Sugar Enhanced Sweet Corn

Plant more than three rows of sweet corn for good production. (Image by Joanna Protz)

Pearly crisp texture, uniform ears, and good sweetness are what make ‘Sugar Pearl‘ (72 days) a favorite among gardeners. The yellow ‘Sugar Buns‘ (70 days) is a good yellow variety with a long window of harvest and short ears that have reliable sweetness. And, the early ‘Trinity‘ (68 days) is an easy-to-find choice with sweet, crisp, white and yellow kernels on shorter ears.

The Sweetest Sweet Corn

‘Honey N’ Pearl’ Corn (Image from AAS Winners)

The disease-resistant ‘Vision MXR‘ (75 days) is a deep yellow supersweet with long ears that grow from tall plants. ‘Honey n’ Pearl‘ bicolor (78 days) is an early supersweet and 1988 AAS Winner noted for its vigor and great taste. A reliable synergistic variety is ‘Sweetness‘ (71 days), which has long, bicolored ears with a super sweet flavor. Two super sweet types include ‘Multisweet‘ (75 days), an augmented supersweet with gold and yellow kernels and unbelievable flavor, and the 2018 AAS Winner ‘American Dream‘, which has tender pale yellow and ivory ears with unbeatable sugar.

Growing Sweet Corn

Grow corn in rows to ensure good pollination and production. (Image by Joanna Protz)

Plant corn in the ground in late spring, once the soil is warm and frosty mornings are long gone. Seeds should be planted about 2 inches deep and 8-12 inches apart and kept lightly moist for good germination. Plant them in no less than 3 rows of 6 to ensure even pollination and good harvest. Provide full sun and tilled soil that drains well and has average fertility and a neutral pH. Working Black Gold Compost Blend and into the soil before planting will increase success. Once temperatures heat up, plants will take off. Keep them irrigated but not wet. Ears will be ready when they are plump, the husks are green, and the tassels have turned brown at the tops.

Common pests are corn earworms, which eat the ears from within. Apply BT to the newly forming tassels to keep these pests at bay. Corn smut is a common fungal disease that can distort the ears (read about edible corn smut here!). Fungal corn leaf blights can be a problem in cool, wet weather and cause leaf lesions and seedling death. Bacterial Stewart’s wilt is a less common but deadly disease that causes whole plants to wilt and die. Choosing resistant varieties is your best defense against wilt and blight.

Follow these steps and all you will need is butter and a little salt to season your garden-fresh corn. Depending on what variety you choose, ears should be ready for the plucking by mid to late summer!

About Jessie Keith

Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

Content Disclaimer:

This site may contain content (including images and articles) as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties. Sun Gro does not review these materials for accuracy or reliability and does not endorse the advice, opinions, or statements that may be contained in them. Sun Gro also does not review the materials to determine if they infringe the copyright or other rights of others. These materials are available only for informational purposes and are presented “as is” without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. Reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement or other information is at your own risk. In no event shall Sun Gro Horticulture Distribution, Inc. or any of its affiliates be liable to you for any inaccuracy, error, omission, fact, infringement and the like, resulting from your use of these materials, regardless of cause, or for any damages resulting there from.

There are around 300 known varieties of sweet maize; they are classified in old varieties or varieties of direct pollination and hybrid varieties, according to the culture conditions required by the plant.
Varieties of direct pollination: They are the old varieties of free pollination and high yield. “Goldem Bantam” is probably the only one cultivated at present.
Hybrid varieties F1: Its culture is not restricted to areas of mild climate. There are types of early maturation, half-season and late varieties. Some of them are Candle, Sundance, Goldprinz, Tasty Gold, Tasty Sweet, Merit, Golden Queen, Jubileo original, Dominador, Golden Earlipark, John innes hybrid, Early xtra sweet, First of all, Earliking, Early arctic, Northstar, Polar Vee, Kandy kob, Snow cross, Tokay sugar, Kelvedon sweetheart and Kelvedon Glory among others.
The hybrid varieties of sweet maize can be classified, according to their earliness and the colour of the kernels, in:
Very early varieties: in good culture conditions, they cover the development cycle in less than 75 days.
White grain: Marcross.
Yellow grain: Butterfingers, Goldcrest, Aztec, Comanche and Early King.
Precocious varieties: Their cycle is completed in 75 to 85 days.
White grain: Comet, Snowbelle and White Knight.
Yellow grain: Golden cross Bantam, Apache, Cherokee, Merit, Midway, Salute, Bonanza, Calico, Guardian, Candy Bar, Bonanza and Arrestor.
Semi-precocious varieties: Their cycle finishes in more than 85 days.
White grain: Stowell”s Evergreen hybrid.
Yellow grain: Iobelle, Valley, Iochief, etc.
Besides, sweeter and tender varieties are gradually obtained, identifying some genes that are inserted in the plant material in the genetic improvement programs. Therefore, another classification is established according to the genotypic characteristics, that is to say, according to the sweetness degree of maize:
Normal sweetened type (it has a gene that slows down the conversion of sugar to starch).
Extra-sweet type (it contains two times the sucrose of the normal types). Some cultivars are Skyhner 95, Super Sweet, Honey Bar, Signal, Lumidor, Sweet Belle, Pinnacle, Citation, Sugary Enhanced, Suzette, Paramount, Jamboree, etc.
Sweet gene hybrids (75% of the sucrose contained in the extra-sweet type). They are obtained from the cross of the previous types.
Intensified sweet hybrids. There are two subtypes: one of them with greater amount of total sugar and greater proportion of maltose and the other with some characteristics resembling the sweet gene hybrids.
Other varieties of maize are the bicolour and the baby maize, being the latter very popular in the Chinese and Thai cooking.
Description of the sweet maize varieties:
“Candle’
It is a very sweet variety having long cobs and plants of average height.
“Baby maize”
Small cobs that, due to their early harvesting, they hardly exceed 10cm of length. The grains are white and in the European markets they are mainly marketed in preserve. They lack vitamin A.
“Earliking”
Large cobs and average-sized plant. It is an early variety of sweet flavour.
“Early xtra sweet”
It is a late variety, more than “Jonh Innes hybrid”, “First of all”, “Earling”, etc., but very popular because the grains have, at least, twice the sugar content of the standard varieties. They are large cobs.
“First of all”
It is one of the earliest varieties, highly recommended for table and for rigorous climate areas. Medium-sized cobs, 15cm long.
“Golden Bantam”
Old variety, somewhat early, sweet and robust.
“Jonh innes hybrid”
Widely cultivated, early variety, reliable and vigorous. Medium size cobs.
“Kelvedon glory”
Rich yield and extremely swollen cobs, 18 to 20cm long. The grains are of a pale yellow colour and good taste. It is of middle season.
“Kandy kob”
Early variety with high sugar content.
“Northstar”
Large cobs. It is recommended for regions with damp and cold summers.
“Sundance’
It is one of the best early or middle season cultures, appropriate for colder climate and shorter summers.
“Tokay sugar”
Sweet and early variety. The grains are of white colour.

Growing Sweet Corn [fact sheet]

Sweet corn is a popular vegetable and is relatively easy to grow. Among market gardeners throughout New England, about half of the vegetable acreage is devoted to sweet corn. The average yield for a home garden is about one-two ears per plant.

Varieties & Types

Sweet corn ears may have all yellow, all white, or bicolor (a mixture of yellow and white) kernels. Bicolor varieties are most popular in New England, but the quality of all of these are excellent and depend on the specific variety, the growing and handling conditions, and on personal preference.

Sweet corn kernels are sweeter than field corn varieties because of a mutation at the sugary locus (su). After harvest, the sugar converts into starches, and the kernels become tougher and less sweet. The traditional (su) sweet corn varieties become starchy relatively quickly after harvest (hence the traditional recommendation to get the pot of water boiling before you harvest the corn!). Sugary-enhanced varieties (se or se+) varieties accumulate more sugar than the (su) varieties, and super-sweet (sh2) varieties are the sweetest of all, with the sugars converting to starches much more slowly than with other types. If super-sweet varieties cross-pollinate other types of corn, the quality of both is reduced. Cross-pollination can be prevented by distance and/or windbreaks, or by planting varieties of very different maturity dates so that they do not bloom at the same time. It is not necessary to isolate sugary (su) or sugary-enhanced (se) varieties from one another.

Growing Conditions

For maximum growth and yield, sweet corn should receive full sun. Soil temperature must be at least 50°F for germination and growth, but 60-85°F is ideal. Sweet corn that has germinated can withstand light frosts because the growing point is protected by the outer leaves, but it is important for the soil to be warm enough to allow germination. It is possible to transplant corn successfully. For transplant, 1-2 seeds should be sown in cells that are large enough so that it does not become rootbound, and plants should be transplanted outdoors within 10-14 days of seeding.

These sweet corn transplants are about 7 days old, and will be ready to transplant in another 3-5 days.

The ideal soil for corn is well drained and fertile, with a pH of 6.0-6.8. As a general rule, plant early corn in light soil (sand or loam) and later corn in heavier soil (silt or clay), when there is an option. Light soils warm up faster than heavy soils, so seed germinates more readily. In hot midsummer conditions, heavier soils have the advantage of holding more moisture than lighter soils.

Sweet corn needs ample water from germination to harvest, but the most critical period for water is about 2 weeks before silks form. Aim for 1 inch of water per week, and supplement natural rainfall with irrigation as needed.

To get a continuous supply of corn throughout the summer, plant a small amount of the same variety every 7-10 days or simultaneously plant varieties with different dates to maturity. In this photo, each group of four rows was planted 7-10 days apart. The older corn on the right is almost ready to pick, and the corn on the left will be ready in about 2½ months. This corn planting will provide a steady harvest of sweet corn from late July through mid-October.

Fertilization

Test soil before planting to determine the amount of lime and fertilizers needed. Soil testing can be done through a number of private and public labs. UNH Cooperative Extension offers this service. Forms and instructions are available on our website, or you can call our Info Line at 1-877-EXT-GROW (1-877-398-4769).

Aged manure or compost incorporated the fall prior to planting will provide nutrients and increase water-holding capacity. Generally, corn needs the equivalent of about 25 lbs of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. Equivalent rates of other synthetic or organic fertilizers can be used instead of 10-10-10. Fertilizers should be thoroughly incorporated into the soil before planting. When sweet corn is 15 to 18” high, it may benefit from sidedressing with nitrogen fertilizer at a rate of approximately 2.5 lbs of a 10% nitrogen fertilizer (or the equivalent) per 100 feet of row. Spread the fertilizer between the rows or on either side of a single row and lightly incorporate it into the soil.

Planting

Corn is pollinated when wind currents carry the pollen from the tassel to the silk. Pollination is essential, since each kernel develops only when a pollen grain lands on the silk attached to that kernel. While it is possible for corn to be pollinated effectively when planted in a single row, planting several short rows in a block formation increases the likelihood of successful pollination.

This silking corn is at the perfect stage to be pollinated.

Rows should be spaced 2½ – 3 feet apart. Plants should be spaced 8-10 inches apart between plants. For early plantings, seeds should be no deeper than 1 inch. For later plantings, plant seeds 1-2 inches deep to ensure adequate moisture contact.

Each corn planting will be mature for only a short time: 7-10 days. For a continuous supply of corn throughout the summer, plant a small amount of the same variety every 7-10 days or simultaneously plant varieties with different dates to maturity.

Pest Management

Weeds

Broad-leaf weeds such as lambsquarter, pigweed, purslane and galinsoga, and grasses such as quackgrass and crabgrass are strong competitors of sweet corn. Weeds can be controlled by using mulches of black plastic or straw. For black plastic, lay the mulch before planting, punch small holes through the plastic and push the corn seed down to the appropriate depth. Plants will grow through the holes. For straw mulch, apply after the plants are 4-5 inches high. Shallow cultivation or hand-hoeing are also effective ways to control weeds. The best time to kills weeds is when they are very small, so frequent shallow cultivation is the most effective method.

Insects

The European Corn Borer and the Corn Earworm are two insects that attack sweet corn. Corn borers usually occur twice, in mid-June to early July and again in mid-July to September. Corn earworms occur during this later time period. In small garden plantings, these pests may not occur in a given year, and they may not require management. For more information about integrated management of these pests, please see the publication Integrated Management of Sweet Corn Insects in New Hampshire. Biological and chemical control strategies should be based on the presence of the insects, which can be determined by trapping. For more information, see the publication Setting up Traps to Monitor Sweet Corn Insects in New Hampshire.

Diseases

Sweet corn is generally free of serious diseases. Occasional a grayblack mass appears on the ears. It is caused by a fungal disease known as smut. The best control is to cut off the ear and dispose of it.

Birds and Other Verterbrates

Germinating corn is often pulled up by birds or crows as they search for the kernels. One control method is to cover the planted rows with polyester rowcovers (available at most garden centers) at the time of planting. Secure edges with rocks, soil or pins, and leave enough slack for the corn to grow. Remove after 3-4 weeks when the plants are too large for the space under the cover. Ripening corn is a favorite food of raccoons. Electric fencing with two relatively low electrified strands (6” and 12”) is an effective way to exclude raccoons from sweet corn plantings. The fence should be installed (and turned on) before the corn is ripe, and it is important to keep the area underneath the fence clear of grass and weeds that can ground it out.

Harvest and Storage

When sweet corn is ready to harvest, ears are plump and the silks have turned brown and started to dry up. You can test for maturity by gently peeling back the husk to check kernel size.

The temperature at which sweet corn is harvested and stored can have a dramatic effect on eating quality. After harvest, sweetness rapidly declines as the sugar in the kernel is converted to starch. This conversion is accelerated by high temperatures. For example, the rate of sugar loss is 10 times greater when corn is held at 70°F than at 32°F. Although super-sweet types retain sweetness much longer than other types, it is important to harvest all types of corn in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cool, and to refrigerate it to maintain quality.

Download the Resource for the complete fact sheet and a printable version.

Corn: A Brief History

Did you know that well over half of a typical American diet is derived from corn? It’s true, and if you’ll remember from The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan famously calls North Americans “processed corn, walking.” He’s not wrong, and since more than 90 percent of corn grown in North America is genetically modified, it’s important to understand just how big a role corn plays in the typical North American diet.

GMO corn has only been on the market since 1996. As a reminder, a GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering, also called biotechnology. This process involves rearranging the building blocks of life in experimental ways that don’t happen in nature.

Today, there are at least 238 distinct varieties of genetically modified corn. While not all of those varieties are commercially available, the unfortunate reality is that nearly all corn grown in North America is genetically modified. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of corn and their associated GMO risks.

Sweet Corn

Sweet corn is what you buy on the cob, canned, and frozen in bags. It is harvested early, when the individual kernels still contain a lot of moisture and sugar. The sugars inside begin turning to starch as soon as the corn is harvested, so the fresher it is, the sweeter it tastes!

In years past, genetically engineered sweet corn was uncommon. Unfortunately, Monsanto introduced the first GMO sweet corn in 2011. Now more and more sweet corn is genetically modified each year, with estimates beginning at 10 percent of all sweet corn acreage in the U.S. and Canada.

Some types of sweet corn are genetically modified with the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis to resist insects. These are called Bt crops, and they cause every cell in the corn plant to produce an insecticide that can’t be washed away. Learn more about Bt crops. Other types of sweet corn are now genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides—especially glyphosate. Farmers can spray Roundup directly on these HT crops, leading to increased herbicide use and the rise of herbicide-resistant weeds. Most types of GMO sweet corn are “stacked” varieties that have been genetically modified with both Bt and HT traits.

Popcorn

Popcorn, also called flint corn‚ is its own distinct type of corn. It makes up very little of all corn grown in North America, and there is not any GMO popcorn available on the market at this time. However, it is still important to consider other GMO risks when purchasing store-bought popcorn. Typical additives including butter, canola oil, sugar, corn syrup, lecithin, enzymes, lactic acid, and all types of “flavorings” present significant GMO risks. Nutritional yeast—my personal favorite popcorn topping—can also be a GMO risk!

Field Corn

Field corn makes up about 99 percent of the corn grown in the United States. This is not the tender, sweet corn most people are used to. It is generally allowed to dry in the field, which removes moisture and converts sugars into starches. Sometimes called “dent corn,” you can often identify this type of corn by its dented kernels.

It’s important to understand that most field corn is not being used to directly feed the human population. In fact, nearly 90 percent of all the corn grown in the US becomes fuel for cars or feed for animals. This is one reason why it is so important to pick non-GMO animal products if you choose to eat meat, dairy, or eggs. Learn more about non-GMO animal feed.

When field corn is used in people food, it tends to be in the form of highly processed ingredients. It’s easy to identify corn products when they are listed as corn starch or corn syrup, but it takes a little more work to keep highly-processed corn ingredients out of your diet. Be aware that there may be GMO corn in citric acid, cellulose, maltodextrin, natural flavorings, vitamins C and E, and anything that says “vegetable” but is not specific. Don’t forget that spirits such as whiskey commonly contain corn! Read more about corn-derived ingredients.

Genetically modified corn makes its way into so many places that it sometimes feels impossible to avoid it. That’s why we’ve done the work for you. Just look for the Non-GMO Project Verified mark—it tells you a product has been evaluated under the Non-GMO Project Standard and meets its requirements for testing, traceability, and segregation.

The ubiquity of genetically modified corn impacts all North Americans, but residents of the United States should be aware that many refined corn products will not be labeled under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Learn more about the NBFDS. Processed inputs such as oils and sugars are likely to be exempt from labeling, even when they come from genetically modified corn or other GMO crops. If you prefer not to support GMO agriculture, Look for the Butterfly when you shop!

Tags: Animal Feed, Avoiding GMOs, corn

THANKS.

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I eat a lot of popcorn , good to know it’s not GMO! Thanks! And I also use nutritional yeast.. i spay the poped corn lightly with a water mister so my yeast ( mixed with cumin and black pepper) will stick, then another light mist to make sure.. I some times give it another round of flavor half way through the bowel. 😀 delecious! And keeps my bowels very regular too. There is a tribe of Mexican runners in Mexico (Tara Humra…spell?) who eat only corn, and have the longest endurance of any current people on the planet.

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That last comment was mine….I meant bowl! …not “bowel” Teeheehee….

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Thank you. This was very helpful. I stopped eating popcorn because I thought it was genetically modified also. I wondered about other ingredients, but did not know what to look for. Now I have more information.

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what if u buy field corn as is, is it gmo?

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Hi Faith,

Great question. Field corn usually means the type of commodity corn that is used for animal feed and ethanol. People tend to only eat it when it is really fresh, right when it’s at its sweetest. That is the type that is most likely to be genetically modified. Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that field corn is genetically modified unless it is labeled non-GMO or organic.

Our best to you,
Alli

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I was told that ALL corn has now been derived from GMO corn seeds and there is no longer any corn seeds that haven’t come from GMO corn in the past because before they used so much of GMO corn starting in 1996. Is this true? That even if it isn’t GMO corn persay that it did come from a GMO corn seed in the distant past at some point? At least here in North America that is?

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Hi Valerie, while it is true that over 90 percent of corn grown in North America is genetically modified, there still are some corn products that are Non-GMO Project Verified. When you see our verification mark it means these products are compliant with the Non-GMO Project Standard, which includes stringent provisions for testing, traceability, and segregation.

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THANKS.

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I live in Guatemala and am making my own tortillas because my daughter seems to be susceptible to digestive orders when she eats GMO anything. I’m using the black field corn which comes in 50 pound+ sacks, that is supposedly grown locally. The kernels are not nearly as “pretty” nor as big or as the more popular yellow corn so I’m hoping that it has not been genetically modified because there’s not a big market for it in the US. I can’t find any information on whether it is or isn’t GMO. Any ideas? Thanks!

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Hi Susan. The Non-GMO Project operates in the US and Canada, so we are not able to make any guarantees about the GMO status of a particular type of corn in Guatemala. That said, nearly all GMO corn is the yellow dent corn that is grown for animal feed and automobile fuel. It is not very likely that the black corn you are describing has been genetically modified.

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I would like to know if there are any brands of frozen conventional (not organic) corn kernels in the US that are Non-GMO Project Verified.

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Hi Jean. We have over 350 brands that have verified corn products. Some of these are frozen conventional corn kernals. One example is the Whole Foods store brand, yellow corn product. To find specific products, you can try searching by category: https://www.nongmoproject.org/find-non-gmo/verified-products/#

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I’m just pleased that something as Non GMO Project exists. Cant thank you enough. I’m from Europe, our perspective on America is; the land that creates marvelous and horrible things. Someday when people will understand the danger of GMOs, America will be the land that creates marvelous things.

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How Sweet Is It? Monsanto’s Bt Sweet Corn

Big, evil corporate giant (read with sarcasm) Monsanto has a new product coming to market according to its blog Beyond the Rows. Sweet corn genetically modified to express the Bt insecticide trait that prevails in much of the conventional corn market. This trait allows the plant to create a toxin that is harmful to certain pests that try to eat it.

Now you’ll find a lot of naysayers in the all-natural food and environmentalist movements. There’s all kinds of places online where you can find people making all sorts of horrible predictions about GMO crops and super weeds and bugs, etc. I happen to find it’s often the case that environmental activists often refuse or do not want to see the benefit of a new technology.

They will tell you that the “industrial” type of row crop farming that I do consumes more resources that it produces, when the fact is we are producing more all the time with less inputs thanks to technologies like the Bt toxin.

Here’s what Monsanto has to say about Bt:

“The Bt proteins in our corn are considered an environmentally-friendly way to control insects, because they are toxic only to a few specific types of insect pest. The Bt proteins and the bacterium that produces them are found naturally in soil. In fact, Bt proteins are used by organic growers to control these same insect pests; Bt proteins are the active ingredient in Dipel, the bio-insecticide most widely used by organic growers.”

Wait a minute. Organic farmers use Bt too? Why yes they do. I believe there is a common misconception by some of the non-farm population that a farm like mine hoses down everything with chemicals and that organic farms don’t use any pesticides. Neither of those is true. Keep this in mind while you are reading. I DO NOT take issue with organic farming. I only take issue with those who make false claims about what I do to make a living.

I don’t grow any sweet corn, but I do grow corn with the Bt trait so this new product is of interest to me. How can this new product be good for the environment? It allows the farmer to make less passes across the field for one thing. The need to treat for pests is greatly reduced meaning a farmer doesn’t have to make another trip across a field in a sprayer for application of insecticide. That’s less insecticide applied, less fuel for the sprayer, fewer hours on the sprayer slowing its rate of depreciation, less compaction in the field and so on.

Sweet corn that has not been husked yet, headed to market. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You might wonder about those super bugs I mentioned earlier. Stands to reason if we go after all the pests with Bt, eventually resistance will build up. I covered that in Genetic Refugees. Now it is true that there are reports of some insects showing resistance, but one of the reasons may be that not all farmers are doing their part planting refuge acres. They should be. They are doing themselves and the rest of us a disservice by choosing not to plant a refuge. There are already rumblings of regulatory changes in this area. Farmers may need to show what seed they have purchased in order to show they purchased refuge varieties as well. I’m not a big fan of more government intervention, but I think this kind of thing is what government is for. Seed companies are at the forefront on this issue as well since they are beginning to provide refuge in a bag. That’s where up to 95% of the corn in a bag of seed is a traited variety and the remainder is a refuge. A simpler process than having two different bags. Although that’s not hard to figure out either. We do it all the time.

The biggest news to me on the Monsanto blog post wasn’t that they now have GMO sweet corn, but how much less insecticide could potentially be applied to sweet corn acreage with this new hybrid.

“Sweet corn makes up less than one percent of total corn acreage in the United States (field corn and sweet corn), yet accounts for 40% of all corn insecticide treatments. Our sweet corn allows farmers to reduce insecticide use by up to 85 percent while still providing fresh, tasty ears of the product.”

Seems to me that kind of puts a dent in the “Big Ag” companies only genetically modifying seeds to sell more chemicals. How about them apples? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Update 5/9/2012 Biofortified (one of my favorite sites) has a new post called “The Frustrating Lot of the Sweet Corn Grower.” I learned a few things about the challenges of growing sweet corn. Here are a couple highlights, but I encourage you to read the whole thing for yourself.

“At best a grower might need to make ~4 insecticide sprays/season. In some areas it can require 20 or more! One reason why so many sprays may be necessary is that the spray only does any good while the caterpillars are still outside of the corn plant. Once they get inside, they have an easy meal.”

“Because the corn is husked, the USDA pesticide residue analysis of sweet corn almost never finds any detectable residues (even the misleading“dirty dozen list” says sweet corn is cool).”

The Farmer’s Daughter USA “My Dog, Chocolate, and Bt Sweet Corn”

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Is Monsanto’s GMO Sweet Corn a Flop in the U.S.?

As we were roasting sweet corn on our barbecue grills last summer, we wanted to know: Was this the same corn on the cob we’ve been eating all our lives or was it a new type of corn genetically engineered by Monsanto to contain an insecticide and resist weed killing chemicals?

Until now, Monsanto’s genetically modified organisms (GMO) have been commodity crops for processed food and animal feed. Very few GMO “whole” foods are on store shelves–just papaya from Hawaii and a little bit of squash. While Syngenta has offered GMO sweet corn for about a decade, most farmers have opted not to grow it.

But the DNA of sweet corn may be changing. In 2011, Monsanto began selling seeds for its first consumer-oriented vegetable product, a “stacked trait” sweet corn genetically engineered with three Bt-toxin genes that make the corn itself an insecticide, plus a “Roundup Ready” gene that enables the corn to withstand Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate. Yum.

Monsanto called the new GMO corn Seminis® Performance Series™ and it comes in three varieties: Passion II, Obsession II, and Temptation II. (See for yourself in this marketing brochure. You couldn’t make this stuff up.)

We wanted to know: How far had Monsanto’s new GMO sweet corn penetrated the market by the 2013 corn-eating season? There was only one way to try to figure it out.

Up to Our Ears in Sweet Corn

Between June and September of 2013, Friends of the Earth worked with volunteers to gather 71 samples of fresh, frozen, and canned non-organic sweet corn from eight regions across the country: Washington State, California, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

We tested the corn using a highly sensitive strip-testing method designed to detect the presence of the Cry1Ab proteins expressed in genetically modified corn plant tissue, both the Monsanto and Syngenta varieties. We sent the positive samples to an accredited independent lab to confirm the corn as genetically engineered.

The results indicate: Most Americans probably didn’t eat unlabeled GMO sweet corn this summer, but some definitely did. (See Friends of the Earth analysis here.)

Just 2.4 percent of the corn we tested–two samples out of 71–tested positive as genetically engineered. Both were fresh corn on the cob products, which the lab confirmed to be Monsanto Seminis® Performance Series™ sweet corn.

So Where’s the GMO Corn?

If you bought sweet corn at Stop & Shop in Everett, Massachusetts, during the first week of August, or at City Market in Breckenridge, Colorado, in the third week of July, you bought Monsanto’s stacked-trait GMO sweet corn–without knowing it, since it’s not labeled as genetically engineered.

The Everett Stop & Shop corn was grown in Ontario, Canada. The Breckenridge City Market corn was of unknown origin but labeled “King Soopers Yellow Corn, three count, store code 430, bar code 204426001997.”

It’s worth noting where we didn’t find GMO sweet corn. We didn’t find it at Stop & Shop in Medford, Mass., less than a mile away from the Everett Stop & Shop where we did find it. The Medford corn was grown in western Massachusetts (not Canada).

We didn’t find GMO corn at Walmart stores in Denver and Seattle, even though Walmart has said it will carry it (three more Walmart stores we checked had no corn at all). We didn’t find GMO corn among the 25 samples we tested from eastern and western Washington State (a top sweet-corn state), despite rumors of farmers there growing it.

It’s possible we would have found GMO sweet corn at other Walmart stores, at other retailers, or in other states where we didn’t buy corn. This analysis is not definitive; it’s just a snapshot in time.

But a picture is emerging from this and other recent data points. “Monsanto’s genetically engineered sweet corn appears to be a flop in the United States,” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology Program director at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Food companies here are starting to reject genetically engineered foods, and rightly so. They know their customers, particularly parents, are leery of unlabeled, poorly studied GMOs.”

While it may not be so popular in the U.S., there is one place you’d be more likely to find genetically engineered sweet corn on your dinner plate.

Is Monsanto Targeting the Canadian Market?

At the same time testing was underway in the U.S., and unbeknownst to the Friends of the Earth team, an environmental group in Canada was conducting a similar investigation to look for GMO sweet corn there.

Using the same strip-testing method to detect the proteins present in genetically engineered corn, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network tested 43 fresh sweet corn ears purchased from a variety of venues in four Canadian provinces. Fifteen out of 43 (35 percent) tested positive as GMO.

The genetically engineered corn came from Loblaw, a large Canadian grocery chain, and also from smaller venues–small grocers, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands.

“Our testing clearly shows that genetically engineered sweet corn is present across Canada, from all types of vendors,” said Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. “We were alarmed to find a significant amount of GM sweet corn in Canada, and shocked that Canada could actually be a source of genetically engineered sweet corn to U.S. consumers.”

Focusing on the Canadian market may make sense for Monsanto, given that the U.S. market is showing increasing signs of skittishness about GMOs.

As a few recent examples: Dozens of leading grocery chains have pledged to not sell genetically engineered salmon if it comes to market; McDonald’s and Gerber have said they don’t plan to sell a GMO apple that is pending approval; Whole Foods Market will require all GMO-containing foods in its stores to be labeled by 2018. When the restaurant chain Chipotle announced plans to phase out of GMOs, its stock prices went soaring.

All this is the result of consumer-pressure campaigns that are largely absent thus far in Canada. But one thing the two countries have in common: They’re two of the only places in the industrialized world where shoppers have to use lab equipment to find out if their sweet corn genetically engineered.

Friends of the Earth spent over $2,000 on laboratory analysis, testing kits, shipping, and packaging to find two positive samples of genetically engineered sweet corn in the U.S.

“Obviously it’s not possible for the average shopper to conduct such testing. Yet we have a right to know if the corn we’re feeding our kids has been genetically engineered to contain an insecticide,” said Lisa Archer. “Transparency is non-negotiable. We need labeling so we can track GMOs in our food supply, especially since new DNA-altered vegetable and meat products are in development and may be headed to our supermarkets soon.”

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11 Top-Rated Sweet Corn Selections to Grow at Home

The great news is that when it comes to corn, there are some a-maize-ing varieties to choose from.

1. Ambrosia Hybrid

Yep, that’s right – ambrosia like the custard. And it’s not for nothing that this SE variety is named after the delicious sweet dessert.

‘Ambrosia’ Hybrid

This plump yellow and white variety is super sweet, and perfect for home growing. Plant ‘Ambrosia’ in full sunlight to get the most out of this yummy cultivar.

This variety takes 75 days to reach maturity. It produces 8-inch-long ears on 6 ½-foot-tall plants.

Seeds are available from Eden Brothers.

2. Blue Hopi

This heirloom SH2 variety has 5-foot stalks that produce 7-inch, very dark blue ears that are highly decorative.

‘Blue Hopi’

It was traditionally believed that, when eaten before a long journey, the consumer was guaranteed a safe return. So, if you are planning any long trips, perhaps this is a good variety to try.

Mature in 100-110 days, ‘Blue Hopi’ provides large ears reaching between 8-9 inches in length, with a sweet flavor. It can either be eaten when harvested or kept to dry and be used to make flour for tortillas.

Get your seeds now from True Leaf Market.

3. Golden Bantam

Burpee boldly states that this is the variety which made yellow sweet corn popular. Apparently, when Burpee first introduced it in 1902, people only wanted white kernels, the color that signified a high-quality product at the time.

‘Golden Bantam’

But since it was bred, ‘Golden Bantam’ quickly gained popularity thanks to the ease with which it sprouts in cool soil early in the season. This is an SU type.

The stalks only reach about 5 feet in height and often bear two 5 ½ to 6 ½-inch-long ears apiece, but for old-fashioned flavor, it’s unbeatable.

Get your ‘Golden Bantam’ seeds from Burpee.

4. Honey Select Hybrid

An AAS Winner for 2001, this “triplesweet” variety produces ears that are a hybrid of 75% SE and 25% SH2, providing a rich and sweet flavor that is hard to rival.

‘Honey Select’ Hybrid

Producing ears between 8 and 9 inches long, ‘Honey Select’ Hybrid is ready to harvest in 80 days and grows on stalks that will reach up to six feet in height. It grows best in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-11.

You can buy your seeds via True Leaf Market.

5. Jubilee Hybrid

This popular variety is as beautiful as it is bountiful, producing large yields with ears 8 1/2 to 9 inches long, with 18 to 20 rows of bright yellow kernels.

‘Jubilee’ Hybrid

This type is deliciously sweet, and ready for the picking in 90 days. It’s perfect for processing and freezing, although can also be eaten fresh.

This SU variety grows six-foot-tall stalks, and it thrives in full sun conditions with slightly acidic soils.

You can find ‘Jubilee’ seeds at Eden Brothers.

6. Nirvana Hybrid

‘Nirvana’ Hybrid offers the best of all the worlds, being bi-color yellow and white, sweet, vigorous, easy to grow, and beautiful, all wrapped up in one neat little husk. This variety is also particularly high yielding, perfect for a large family or for sharing with your neighbors.

‘Nirvana’ Hybrid

Although technically an SH2 variety, ‘Nirvana’ Hybrid kernels are plumper than your usual SH2, and so your harvest will be more like an extra-sweet SE variety.

It takes 72 days to reach full maturity and does best in full sun conditions.

You can find seeds at Burpee.

7. Peaches and Cream

Can’t decide if you prefer white or yellow kernels? Well, this SE variety produces a high yield of both!

‘Peaches and Cream’

Reaching maturity in 80-83 days, ‘Peaches and Cream’ stays fresh for longer than other types. Designed with markets and roadside stands in mind, it is also well suited to home gardens.

The stalks produce large, 8-inch ears and it does best in full sun, in Zones 3-11.

Find this variety at True Leaf Market.

8. Picasso Hybrid

This hybrid, described as a “visual stunner and culinary wonder,” makes a beautiful addition to any garden.

‘Picasso’ Hybrid

With its deep purple stalks and husks contrasting against white and yellow ears, this crop can be enjoyed both in the garden and on the plate, or as a festive holiday decoration.

Best roasted, baked, or boiled, this variety reaches maturity in 75 days and thrives in full sun conditions.

You can find ‘Picasso’ Hybrid seeds at Burpee.

9. Ruby Queen Hybrid

A hybrid SE sweet corn, ‘Ruby Queen’ certainly lives up to its name. A deep shade of vibrant red, this type is as beautiful as it is delicious, with sweet, tender kernels.

‘Ruby Queen’ Hybrid

‘Ruby Queen’ grows well in full sun in rich, fertile, well-drained soil. It can either be picked a bit earlier when it’s blush-red for maximum sweetness, or you can let it ripen to fully develop its rich, old-fashioned corn flavor. This variety is ready to harvest in 75 days and stalks grow to 7 feet tall.

With ears that reach 8 inches long, sporting 18 rows of juicy, very tender kernels, there’s more than enough to enjoy with this variety. It’s recommended to steam or microwave this corn to make the most of both its rich taste and color.

As an added bonus, the red tassels and stalks also make fantastic autumn decorations.

Seeds are available at Burpee.

10. Silver Queen Hybrid

Rivalling the ‘Ruby Queen’ throne, ‘Silver Queen’ is a popular late-season SU variety that is very much worth the wait.

‘Silver Queen’ Hybrid

A brilliant bright white, this type is highly productive and flavorsome, and has been a firm favorite for many years. Although sometimes a little bit more delicate than some of the others to grow, this is definitely one to consider for your garden.

Producing large ears between 8 and 9 inches long with 14-16 rows of white kernels, this variety grows stalks up to 8 feet tall, and is ready to harvest in 92 days.

Find seeds at Eden Brothers.

11. Stowells Evergreen

This heirloom, open-pollinated variety comes with an interesting story.

‘Stowells Evergreen’

Named after its breeder, Nathaniel Stowell worked for decades to develop the variety before selling just 2 ears to a “friend” for $4 for “private use.” This “friend” then made his fortune with the seed, selling it for $20,000 and introducing it to the market.

And it’s certainly not hard to see why this cultivar took off! A firm favorite since its development in the 1800s, this type shows no sign of dropping out of fashion any time soon.

An SU variety, ‘Stowells Evergreen’ is hardy and productive, whilst at the same time producing very tender and sugary white kernels. The ears also stay fresh in the field for a long time – hence the “Evergreen” part of this cultivar’s name.

This type matures slowly, requiring 95-100 days to harvest. Ears are about 7-8 inches long, and the stalks grow to about 7 1/2 feet high. This variety does best in full sunlight.

You can find ‘Stowells Evergreen’ seeds at Eden Brothers.

There’s Certainly a Corn for You

In corn-clusion, this is a beautiful, vibrant, and diverse crop that definitely deserves a place in your garden! With the diversity of seeds on offer, you’re sure to find the ideal variety for you.

If you liked this article, check out the following:

  • Master Growing Delicious Sweet Corn in Your Backyard

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There is nothing quite like growing heirloom sweet corn in the garden. It is one of the best ways to experience the true taste of summer freshness.

The sugary sweet taste of a just-picked ear of heirloom sweet corn is almost too good to be true. Especially when compared to the ears of corn found in your local grocery store.

Sweet corn in stores can travel for days and weeks in cold storage before being put out for sale.

And the varieties available are chosen more for longevity than flavor.

Tender young corn seedlings emerging from the soil.

Sweet corn is one vegetable that is at its peak flavor the minute it is picked. The sugars present in the kernels begin to break down as soon as the cob is snapped off from the stalk.

So having it growing close at hand is the ultimate way to experience pure, sweet flavor at it’s best.

Growing heirloom sweet corn in your backyard garden also lets you try incredible varieties that aren’t available in stores.

Sweet corn found in stores is sometimes stored for weeks before hitting the shelves.

And there are so many amazing heirloom varieties to choose from!

Here is a look at our top tips to growing heirloom sweet corn, and 4 great varieties of heirloom sweet corn to try this year. And if you love heirlooms – be sure to check out our article on heirloom tomatoes : 6 Great Heirloom Tomatoes To Grow

Growing Heirloom Sweet Corn – The Basics

Corn needs to be directly planted into the ground. Unlike many other vegetables, it does perform well as a transplant.

Sweet corn should only be planted after the soil has warmed.

Corn thrives in warm soil, so it is important not to rush the season. Allow soil temperatures to heat up before planting.

Sow seed 10 to 14 days after the threat of last frost. Seeding 1 inch deep and approximately 4 inches apart. Thin to 6 to 8 inches per plant after seeds germinate.

Planting For Pollination

Good pollination is a must for a good crop of sweet corn. And the best way to ensure good pollination is to plant in blocks.

Planting sweet corn at least four to 6 rows wide , in rows a minimum of 10 to 15 long. This “block” style planting allows enough space for the corn to better cross-pollinate.

Corn should be planted in blocks or rows at least 4 wide and 15 feet long. This allows for the best chance of pollination.

Planting a single long row doesn’t allow the wind to effectively pollinate the crop.

Fertilizers

Corn is a heavy feeder, and requires rich soil with plenty of nutrients to perform well.

Side dressing or working in compost or aged cow manure to the rows is a great way to add slow-release power to the soil.

Adding compost or aged cow manure as a side dressing to plants is a great way to fertilize sweet corn.

Corn crops should be rotated every year as well to a new space. This allows the previous year’s soil to recover, and gives the new corn crop fresh soil.

Harvesting

When it comes to harvesting, pick only what you need when you need it. The corn will stay fresh on the stalk much better than when picked and stored.

In addition, plant a new block every 2 to 3 weeks to keep fresh corn coming on throughout the summer.

Growing Heirloom Sweet Corn – 4 Great Varieties To Try

Stowell’s Evergreen Sweet Corn

If you want to try your hand at growing heirloom sweet corn from long ago – this is the one to try!

Stowell’s dates back to before the Civil War! It is a super-sweet white corn with big juicy kernels.

It does need a bit of time in the soil to mature at around 100 days, but the flavor is worth the wait!

Peaches and Cream

Peaches and Cream is one of the most tender heirloom sweet corn varieties around. It is a long-time favorite of backyard sweet corn growing fanatics.

Peaches and Cream – A sugary-sweet bi-color sweet corn variety filled with flavor.

Peaches and Cream is a bicolor corn with tasty yellow and white kernels. It is also one of the earliest to mature.

Golden Bantom

This old-time heirloom sweet corn is full of sweet, sugary flavor.

It matures early as well, in as little as 75 to 85 days.

Golden Bantom ears are smaller than most sweet corns, and are ready to pick when about 5 to 7 inches long.

Silver Queen

This traditional white sweet corn is a long-time favorite. It is well-known by backyard gardeners in the Midwestern states.

Large ears with big ultra-sweet white kernels are a treat for the taste buds. This is a great sweet corn to grow and freeze off the cob too.

This Is My Garden

This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, publishing two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. This article may contain affiliate links.

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