Sumo Gardener

Harvesting Corn – When is Corn Ready to Pick?

Are you wondering how to tell when corn is ready to pick? Are you having second thoughts if they are already ready or if they need more time?

Then knowing when is corn ready to pick is essential, for you to ensure that they are all ready to be consumed.


Everything that you need to know about when is corn ready to pick is mentioned above. It may not be easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, then there wouldn’t any problem at all. Just make sure to check the ears before actually picking them carefully.

How to Know When Corn is Ready to Pick

Most of the gardeners today are devoting their time, as well as space to planting corn since freshly picked corns are tastier compared to the ones that are purchased in the stores.

But you should know that there are different ways on harvesting corn depending on how you are going to consume them.

If you are one of the many who is wondering on when is corn ready to pick, then the information below will surely be useful for you.

Check the Ear of the Corn 

Checking the Ear of the Corn to see if it ready to be picked

The first thing that you need to do is to check the ear of the corn (the corn at the top of the stalk). Typically the stalk or the top ear of the corn will start to mature rapidly than any other ears in the corn.

Avoid harvesting all of the ears since it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can collect them all one the top ear is already ready. So the best thing that you can do is just to harvest the top most ears.

When harvesting, you should also notice that the corn in it is plumper than the other ears. This is a clear sign that you can pick it already.

Check the Corn to see if it is plump and juicy

How to check if the corn is ready to harvest with disturbing it

You can check it by feeling the corn to know if it is consistently plump enough. The silks that are coming off should also be dry enough and should be brown in color.

Another thing that you should notice is that the silks can easily be peeled or even just fall in your hand without putting in too much effort. Silk that is too soft and is colored in red means that the corn is not yet ready to pick out.

Peeling the Husk Back

Slightly peel the husk back to check for fully developed corn kernels to know that it is ready to pick

If you are unsure if the top most ear is ready to be picked, then peel the husk back so you are able to check the kernels. You should be able to see that the end part of the ear has kernels that are white in color or creamy yellow in color.

You can also start poking the kernel using your nail, and there should be a milky or white liquid that will come out. But if the liquid is too creamy, this means that the corn is already overripe.

How To Harvest the Ripe Corn

Now once you have made sure that the corn is already ready, then twisting it out of the stalk is the next step. All you have to do is to grab the ear and pull it in a downward position and start twisting it.

Once you have to twist it, it should then easily come off, and the need to use the shears should not be needed.

Store the Corn Immediately After Picking

Storing the Corn Immediately after harvesting to slow the rate of sugar turning to starch

Once you have picked the number of corn that you need, the next thing that you need to do is to store them directly to ensure that you will maintain their flavor and sweetness. This will also help in slowing the rate of sugar to starch conversion by storing them in a cold place.

To keep them cool, you can lay them inside the fridge and cover them with a cloth that is damp to ensure that they will be as cold as they can be.

Checking the Other Corn Ears

After picking the top ears of the corn, you should expect for the rest of the ears to ripe after two days. Most of the corn plants today have the ability to produce two ears for each stalk.

There are of course some that can produce more. Corn seeds that are known to be hybrids have the potential to produce more compared to the pure ones.

Just make sure to store them in the fridge once you pick the rest of the corn later on to maintain their amazing tastes.

Also check: When to Pick Banana Peppers

Frequently Asked Questions About Corn Harvest

How do you know when corn is ready to be picked?

The best way to tell if corn is ready to be picked is to stick your fingernail into the end of the cob by peeling back some of the outer cases. If a sweet-smelling, milky sap comes out, it’s ready to harvest.

What month is corn harvested in the US?

Corn is typically ready for harvest in July, August, or September, but can be earlier in some warmer states. In cooler parts of the country, it’s worth checking even small cobs in late August as they may have been pollinated and ripened, but can be slowed by the weather, meaning a smaller harvest.

At what stage do you pick sweetcorn? 

The right stage to pick sweetcorn should be decided by visual and physical factors. The main visual clue is when the tassels at the end of each cob turn brown and droop, but this isn’t always an accurate sign, so you should check a couple of cobs using the fingernail method to see if you can squeeze sap from a kernel to be 10%5 sure.

How do you harvest sweetcorn?

When sweetcorn is ready to harvest, it’s really easy to harvest. All you have to do is pull downwards on the cob and it will snap away from the plant, with a tail of the papery wrapping intact.

For the best flavor, keep it in the wrapping until you’re ready to eat it, then peel, rinse, and enjoy.

Can you eat field corn?

Field corn is grown as a grain, and doesn’t have the same sweet flavor as sweetcorn, but it is completely edible and has an earthy flavor that many people prefer.

Either way, don’t let field corn go to waste as it's delicious boiled, roasted, or grilled.

Will corn ripen after it is picked?

Corn should be picked as soon as possible, but its flavor will deteriorate after harvest, not improve. However, small cobs will ripen and swell if they are not completely ripe when you pick them, but I wouldn’t advise it simply because you won’t get nearly as much flavor that way.

Can you wait too long to pick corn?

You can wait too long to pick corn, and sadly it can ruin your harvest. Like any seed (which corn is) once it’s ripe, the process of feeding the seed begins, and moisture will ebb away, slowly drying out each kernel. The longer you leave it, the drier the kernels will be.

What do you do with corn stalks after harvest?

After harvesting your corn, you’ll be left with tall stalks, still in the ground. There are a few things you can do with them to help feed your soil as they are packed with nitrogen, and all that fertilizer you gave them through the growing season will be stored in the stems and roots. Either rototill them back into the soil or compost them.

Now You Know When is Corn Ready to Pick

Everything that you need to know about when is corn ready to pick is mentioned above. It may not be easy at first, but once you get the hang of it, then there wouldn’t any problem at all. Just make sure to check the ears before actually picking them carefully.

Also, you need to make sure only to peel a little of the husk because if you exposed the kernels too much without the intention of picking it up, it would become exposed to diseases and pests, which can ruin your corn.

Follow the tips above corn harvest, and you will surely be harvesting your ready to pick corn in no time.

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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