Sweet corn – how to know when corn is ready to harvest?

Harvested corn ready to eat or to feed animals

Sweet corn is very common and classic summer vegetable. Sweet corn can be eaten fresh or dried to make cornbread or tortillas which we all love. Sweet corn kernels are hidden so how to tell when it is ready to harvest? To find out keep reading the article!

When is the right time to harvest corn?

To be honest knowing the right time to harvest corn is very important thing because its quality depends on it. Corn is ready to harvest about 20 days after first silk shows up. Durning harvest time the silk turns brown however its hushs are green!

Sweet corn ripens very fast thats why person who grows it have to watch for the signs of corn being ready. However remember to harvest only as much corn as you can eat in a day for the first few days.

Milk stage harvesting

Milk stage is time when the kernels are simply filled with liquid inside which is milky sap. This stage is starting between 18 to 20 days after female silks shows up. Harvesting corn at this stage will give you corn which will be sweet, slightly crunchy and ideal for roasting.

Dry stage harvesting

If you will want to have corn ideal for popcorn, flint, flour you should wait till the corn kernels are just dried up before harvesting it. Why is that? Well popcorn needs a moisture level of 13-14 percent to give it that perfect pop.

Most growers wait till the kernels are completely dry. This drying process takes about 110 to 120 days. Yes you have to be patient buto its worth waiting.

Stages of sweet corn growing

There are 3 stages of sweet corn growing. Those stages are:

  • early growth which is simply just preparing for pollination,
  • mid-growth which is pollination,
  • final-growth this is final stage which is just ripening.

Growing corn at home

Corn is very healthy vegetable and eating it as whole food is great thing for you. Corn has healthy nutrients like:

  • vitamin C,
  • copper,
  • folate,
  • vitamin B6,
  • potassium,
  • magnesiumZinc,
  • phosphorus.

If you decide on growing any kind of a corn in you home garden space you should be aware of it that your corn won’t be looking like the one from the market place. They may be differnt in size however you shouldn’t rely on it while thinking of harvesting corn. Size of an ear of corn won’t tell you if its ready to harvest. Ear of corn will not be growing any bigger than they are at some point.

Types of corn

Type of corn which is a popcorn

There are 5 types of corn. Those types are:

  • dent corn – it is also called field corn. This is used often as food for livestock,
  • flint corn – it is also called as indian corn. This corn comes in different colors and is used as food for animals,
  • sweet corn – this is the most common one which is grown for corn on the cob or to be eaten fresh. This type of corn can be forozen or canned,
  • popcorn – this is a type of corn which is special type of flint corn to pop when its karnels are dried and heated,
  • flour – it is made to make a corn flour.

How to store corn?

If you are asking yourself how to store corn you came to the right place to find out. You can do things like:

  • store them in the refrigerator but they should be unwashed and they can be kept like that for few days,
  • if you want to enjoy your corn throughout the year you can try to blanch corn cobs just after picking it. To do so you should add the shucked ears to a pot of boiling water and quickly remove it after four minutes of processing. When they are cold (you can speed the process of getting cold with ice bath) you can freeze them,
  • dry your corn.


  • frozen corn can be kept in the freezer for even about 12 months,
  • corn can be grown by farmers or gardeners for flour and not only as fresh eating,
  • if you will want to harvest the ears of corn you should grip them with the hand and gently twist them until they just break off from stalk,
  • to harvest hard corn wait until they have dried a while,
  • make sure to harvest the entire crop when the corn is in the milk stage,
  • if you feel the individual kernels through the husk our corn is ready to be picked,
  • if gardeners starts their corn in early to late spring they can expect that this corn will be ready to harvest in mid to late summer,
  • when you pick corn the sugars starts converting into starches and in about a week or so it will taste more like the corn from the market and not like the fresh corn from your garden,
  • corn is the best when is picked in the early morning,
  • ripe kernels produces a milky white liquid,
  • if corn is planted all at once it can be harvested once in the season,
  • corn stalks should be pull up immediately after harvest.


Now you know that knowing when to pick corn is very important factor of its quality. Having you own garden is a good start to have your own corn. So go for it and plant a corn in your garden be like other home gardeners and enjoy the best flavor of fresh sweet corn.