We've been offered sweet corn from a road side stand that wasn't ready only once and that was from a couple neighborhood kids who got carried away with their picking. Some farmers feel the best brush is harvested when the plant is in flower, or at most when the seed is only slightly formed. Even though the corn kernels are yellow, the cob from this field corn is red. Plus, finishing harvest earlier potentially gives you more time for post-harvest tillage and more through out clean up before the snow flies.
Now that cellulosic ethanol producers like DuPont Industrial Biosciences and POET-DSM have several years of testing under their belts, it appears that not only is partial harvest sustainable, it also contributes to a better seedbed and yields the following year.
Considerations include moisture content, forage harvester set-up, storage capacity, and potential impacts of starch digestibility on milk production. The ‘too wet' situation is a harvest timing and storage issue; too dry is more of a harvesting issue. Nationally, the sweet corn crop is worth $750 million to $850 million per year.
Vacuum cooling can be more rapid, but if the ears are not kept wet, a 1 percent moisture loss for each 10-degree drop in corn temperature occurs. Baby corn ears are best harvested when they are two to four inches long and a third of an inch to two-thirds of an inch in diameter, whether grown with a regular or close spacing pattern.
Silking date can be used as a rough indicator of which fields are likely to be the earliest to harvest. Southern Delaware farmers use huge combines — commonly Case IH or John Deere models — to harvest the corn. Sweetcorn is wind pollinated and best planted in large blocks, where the male flowers at the top of the plant have more opportunity to shed their pollen on the female tassels (where Corn On The Cob the cobs will form) below.
The following procedures were developed for sampling fields and measuring moisture content to plan harvest dates. Earlage can be stored in most structures typically used for storing corn silage, including bunker silos, plastic silage bags and oxygen-limiting storage structures.
Scott Hendrickson (Manitowoc county agent) measured whole-plant moisture over time at three sites in the county by always returning to the same location in the field (Figure 2). Depending upon year the average drydown rate ranged from 0.4 to 0.7 percent per day.
The miniature size of baby corn makes consumers think that it grows from dwarf corn plants. Phantom yield loss is worse yet if corn dries down, is rewetted by rain and humid weather, then initiates sprouting which hurts quality, testweight and overall yield.
Sampling fields is the best way to monitor plant maturity and harvest timing. Apparently, farmers who grow corn for seed corn production top off (cut off) as much as two feet of the stalk. For good pollination and wellfilled ears, plant in blocks at least 5 rows wide.
"It's been absolutely excellent weather for harvesting, as dry as it's been. The too wet situation is a harvest timing and storage issue; too dry is more of a harvesting issue. When the corn enters the combine, it's fed up into a cylinder, which turns the piece of corn, forcing the kernels loose.