Corn varieties are many. When you are choosing a corn variety, flavor and adaptability to the climate of your garden are to put to considerations. Three types of fresh-eating sweet corn exist, and they are grouped by flavor. These are standard corn, sugary enhanced corn, and super sweet corn. Let us see how they are different:
This is the “old-fashioned” corn, the one with that tasty corn flavor. Many of these varieties are heirlooms and open-pollinated. They have been around for many years now, and are able to be planted in soil as cool as 55°F. It is the best when eaten an hour after harvesting.
Sugary enhanced corn
These hybrid varieties can keep their sweetness for up to 3 days after harvest. They also have a 3-day window for harvest, and do not require daily monitoring. They can be picked anytime within the 3-day peak flavor period. They demand soil temperatures that is around 10° warmer than standard corn.
Super sweet corn
As another hybrid variety, these corn varieties are sweeter than the sugary enhanced corns. Their harvest window is also enhanced, and is 2 to 3 days. However, it can be demanding, as it requires the soil to be 65°F at the time of planting. This corn grows best in pre-warmed soil. You can achieve this by covering the beds with black plastic to warm the soil. The super sweets are less vigorous than both of the previous sorts are.
STANDARD CORN VARIETIES:
Butter and Sugar
73 days. Bicolor white and yellow kernels. Good flavor. 7-8 inch ears. Resistant to bacterial wilt and southern corn leaf blight
Golden Cross Bantam
85 days. Large yellow kernels. Uniform ears 7½-8 inches. 10-14 rows per ear. Sturdy stalk to 6 feet. Very prolific. Resistant to bacterial wilt
83 days. Sweet, tender, yellow kernels. Good for fresh eating or processing. Large ears, 8-9 inches long. 16 rows. Strong sturdy stalks from 7-7½ feet. Resistant to smog and smut
88 days. Very sweet, tender, snow-white kernels. 8-9 inches long ears. 14-16 rows. Can be stored for several days without losing any quality. Stalk grows 7½-8 feet tall. Widely adapted. Resistant to bacterial wilt and Stewart’s wilt
SUGARY ENHANCED CORN VARIETIES:
73 days. Extra sweet, creamy, tender, light yellow kernels. Remain sweet 10-14 days when mature. Two ears.16-18 full rows. Plant to 7 feet
Concord or Moore’s Early Concord
Tender and sweet, bicolor kernels. Ears 6-8 inches long. 12-16 rows. Stalks to 5 feet. Harvest early
How Sweet It Is
87 days. Sweet, crisp, tender, white kernels. Flavor holds on stalks and when stored. Lightly tapered ears, 8 inches long. 18-22 rows of kernels. Stalks to 6½ feet tall. 2 ears per stalk. Widely adapted. All-America selection. Resistant to most diseases
89 days. Sweet and tender, golden yellow kernels. Perfect for both freezing and canning. Uniform ears 8 inches long. 16-18 rows. Stalks 8-9 feet tall. Can adapt to a wide range of climates.
SUPERSWEET CORN VARIETIES:
Early Xtra Sweet
71 days. Extra sweet golden yellow kernels. Small and tender. Uniform ears, 7-9 inches. 12-16 rows. Vigorous plant, 5-6 feet tall. All-America selection. Resistant to most diseases
Butterfruit Original Early
72 days. Bright yellow kernels, savory flavor. Ears tightly packed. Plant no more than 5 feet tall. They mature extra early
82 days. Exceptionally sweet, tender and crisp, deep golden yellow kernels. Slightly tapered ears. 7-8 inches long and 14-18 rows. Stalks to 6 feet. They hold sweetness for very long in the field and after harvested. 30% less calories than regular corn. Great for home gardens
Illini Xtra Sweet
85 days. Sweet, golden yellow kernels; 14-18 rows. Plant no more than 6½ feet. Good for freezing.
85 days. Super sweet, yellow kernels, 18 rows. Plants to 8 feet. High yield
BABY CORN VARIETIES:
Finger-size cobs, white kernels. Tender, with delicate flavored. Great for stir-fries, salads and pickles. Should be harvested shortly after the silks appear
100 days. Deep blue-black kernels, pop white with a blue tinge at base. Have a rich flavor. Have larger ears and kernels than standard popcorn
Gold Hybrid Popcorn
105 days. Exceptional quality, pops large
90 days. Large and tender kernels when popped. Small ears, 4 inches long. Stalks 5-6 feet tall. High yielding. 2-3 ears per stalk
95 days. Tender, fluffy white, hull less popping corn. Excellent flavor. Small plump ears, 4 inches. Well-filled. High yield. Great for cooler regions
ORNAMENTAL CORN VARIETIES:
100-110 days. Large, decorative ears. 7-9 inches. Kernels red, purple, yellow, orange, white blue. Strong stalks
110 days. Kernels yellow, red, purple, orange. Cobs 4 inches long. Stalks 6-7 feet
90-112 days. Multicolored kernels. Large, smooth ears. Used for various decorations. God for roasting and frying while young. Open pollinated
105 days. Cobs 2-3 inches long. Ruby kernels, look like strawberries. 4 feet tall. Nice for popping and decoration. Kernels become white when popped
CORN GROWING SUCCESS TIPS:
Planting bed preparation
Choose a full sunlit area. The bed or site should accommodate 2 to 3 foot squares or blocks. Plant in a block pattern, as it will maximize the pollination. Corn is normally pollinated by the wind, with pollen falling from male tassels onto the female silks. To enhance the pollination, make sure to have even and close proximity stalks.
Plant your corn on small hills or raised beds, because it prefers well-drained soil which can warm up quickly. Turn the soil 6 inches deep in the flat beds and add a lot of aged compost to the planting area. Also, make sure to dust with nitrogen-rich cottonseed or soybean meal. A portion of 3 pounds per 100 square feet should do the trick.
You should sow the corn or set out small starts when the soil is at 65°F. This tends to happen between two and three weeks after the last spring frost occurs. Black plastic bags can help you hear it in advance and prewarm the beds.
As a member of the grass family, corn requires regular and even moisture. Around 1 – 2 inches of water each week is necessary. Drip irrigation or a soaker hose are great here, so make sure to place them near the base of the stalks. Cover them with straw mulch as it helps to keep the soil evenly moist. In addition, side dress the corn with aged compost every 3-4 weeks during growing season.
Make sure to cover the seeded beds with row covers in order to exclude birds, caterpillars, and beetles. Also, remove caterpillars and beetles that attack the mature plants by hand. Moreover, add 5 drops of vegetable oil to the silks on each ear when they start to brown. This often turn the earworms away.
When you see tassels on the ears, shake the stalks each day. The pollen will then fall to the silks. Different corn varieties that are planted closely will probably cross-pollinate. To avoid this, make sure to sow different varieties no less than 25 feet apart. You could also time the planting, so that they do not flower simultaneously.
Start picking the ears 3 weeks after the silks appear. When they turn brown, check the ears to see if they are filled. Also, squeeze a kernel to check if the white milky juice drips out. If it does, the ear is ripe. Popcorn should remain on the plant up until the husks are completely dry.