When to Harvest and Store Corn: Timing and Signs of a Ripe Crop

Corn is a very popular and unpretentious crop that gives a good harvest in Ukrainian conditions. The timing of corn harvesting depends on the variety of the plant and the purpose for which the crop is grown.

When to harvest corn: time of maturity

The optimal time for corn harvesting is in August. There is no need to hurry with the harvest, but you should not delay until the fall, because the delicate corn kernels do not tolerate frost. Also, the harvest can be spoiled by frequent rains, so it is advisable to pick the cobs before the rains start to fall.

When to pick corn for personal consumption

To make the corn tender and juicy when boiled, it is harvested slightly underripe. Such cobs are well suited for boiling or making preserves for the winter but are not good for feeding cattle.

Signs of early ripe corn are as follows:

  • The light, the almost white color of the kernels;
  • Kernels pierce easily with the fingernail and give off a lot of juice;
  • “hairs” on the cob are silky and moist, light in color;
  • the sheltering leaves on the cob are green and tight around the corn.

When corn is harvested for agricultural purposes

If corn is grown for livestock feed, the crop is harvested at a later stage, when the kernels have less water and more starch. But such corn tastes too tough and not juicy.

Signs of corn for cattle feed are:

  • The grains are a rich yellow or orange color (depending on the variety);
  • the covering leaves on the cob are dry and yellow;
  • “hairs” on the end of the cob dry and brown;
  • kernels are hard and hard to pierce with your fingernail.

How to Store Harvested Corn

It is recommended to store corn on the cob in the refrigerator without removing the top leaves. This will extend shelf life and prevent the leaves from drying out. In the vegetable compartment, corn on the cob will last about a month, while peeled and cooked will last 1 week.

If the cobs are frozen, they can be stored in the freezer for about a year. Individual kernels can also be frozen. Kernels separated from fresh corn and cooked can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Late corn can be stored on the cob without refrigeration. The plant needs fresh air for long-term storage. It is recommended to spread the corn on the balcony or in the attic with an open window. The leaves are not removed completely, but ajar from the top. In such conditions, corn can be stored for 3-4 weeks.


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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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