How to Tell When Corn is Ready to Pick?

To tell if corn is ready to pick, look at the appearance of the corn silks and kernels. Corn is ready when the silks have turned brown and the kernels are plump and well-filled out.

Corn is a staple crop that is popular all around the world. It is used in various cuisines and can be consumed boiled, roasted, or grilled. However, it can only be enjoyed at its best when harvested at the right time. Sometimes it can be tricky to determine when corn is ready to pick, especially if you are a novice grower. Picking corn too early or late can result in lower yields and reduced nutritional value. In this article, we will guide you on how to tell when corn is ready to pick so that you can enjoy fresh, sweet, and juicy corn on your table.

How to Tell When Corn is Ready to Pick?


Understanding Corn Maturity And Harvest Time

Corn, also known as maize, is a versatile crop that is widely cultivated in many regions of the world. Corn is a staple food that is often used as a source of carbohydrates in many diets. Harvesting corn at the right time is crucial to ensure optimal yield and quality.

Understanding corn maturity is essential to determine the perfect time to harvest the crop. This section of the post will discuss the importance of corn maturity, factors that determine it, and why it is important to harvest corn at the right time.

What Is Corn Maturity?

Corn maturity is the stage when the corn crop is ready to be harvested.

  • Grain moisture content
  • Dry matter content
  • The physical appearance of the crop, including the ear, milk line, and kernel.

Why Is It Important To Harvest Corn At The Right Time?

Harvesting corn at the right time is essential for several reasons:

  • The yield and quality of the crop
  • The nutritional value of the corn
  • The profitability of the crop for the farmer

Harvesting corn too early can result in a lower yield, while harvesting it too late can result in reduced quality and lower profitability.

Factors That Determine Corn Maturity

Several factors determine corn maturity, including:

  • The corn variety
  • The environmental conditions
  • The planting date
  • The management practices used
  • The crop’s genetics.

Farmers must pay close attention to the maturity of their corn crops to determine the right time to harvest the crop.

Understanding corn maturity is essential in determining the perfect time to harvest the crop. Farmers need to consider several factors when determining the maturity of their crops, including grain moisture content, dry matter content, and physical appearance. Harvesting corn at the right time is crucial for optimal yield, quality, and profitability.

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Visual Signs Of Corn Maturity

What To Look For When Observing Corn Plants

Corn is one of the most popular and widely consumed crops globally, but harvesting it at the right time can be a bit tricky. To ensure the best flavors and optimal nutritional value, it’s crucial to know when to harvest corn correctly.

Below are few things to keep in mind when observing corn plants.

Color Changes In The Husks

The husk is the outermost part of the corn ear. It protects the corn kernels from insects and ensures they stay moist. Observe the color of the husks as the corn reaches maturity. The green husk will begin to turn brown and dry, indicating that the corn is almost ready to be picked.

The more brown the husk, the riper the corn.

Kernels’ Appearance And Texture

The kernels of the corn have many visual and textural clues to show when they’re ready to be harvested. Observe the kernel’s color; it should have a bright and vibrant golden color. Try to gently press a kernel with your thumb – it should be firm and plump.

If you pierce a kernel with your thumbnail, it should exude a milky, creamy color. These are all excellent indicators that your corn is mature enough to be harvested.

Sticky Feel Of The Silks

Silks are the stringy bits that grow from the tops of the corn cobs. They serve as the ‘connection’ between the kernels and the ears. As the corn approaches maturity, the silks will begin to dry out. To tell if the corn is nearly ready to harvest, run your hands over the silks.

They will start to feel sticky to the touch because the kernels will be full of juice. If the silks are dry and brittle, the corn may have passed its prime harvesting stage.

By observing these signs, you will know exactly when to harvest your corn for the freshest taste and most excellent nutritional value. Remember, picking corn at the right time is essential to producing an excellent yield of corn that tastes sweet and delicious.

How to Know When Your Corn is Ready to Harvest

Additional Tests To Determine Corn Maturity

Growing corn takes patience, care, and skill. One of the most critical elements in growing corn is knowing when to harvest it. The longer corn stays on its stalk, the sweeter it becomes. But how do you know when the corn is ready to pick?

There are several tests you can perform to check the corn’s maturity level. In this blog post, we will focus on additional tests to determine corn maturity, including the thumb-puncture test, the milk-line test, the squeeze test, and the earwig or insect test.

The Thumb-Puncture Test

The thumb-puncture test is a quick and easy way to determine if the corn is ready to be harvested. To perform this test, gently push your thumb into one of the kernels. If the liquid inside is a milky white color, it’s time to harvest.

The Milk-Line Test

The milk-line test is another way to determine the corn’s maturity level. It involves examining the kernel’s milk line, which is the line between the hard starch at the top and the soft, milky material at the base. Once the milk line reaches 3/4ths of the way down the kernel, it’s time to harvest.

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The Squeeze Test

The squeeze test involves squeezing a kernel to see if it’s ready to be harvested. To perform this test, gently squeeze a kernel between your thumb and forefinger. If the kernel has a dough-like texture and does not release any liquid, it is ready to harvest.

The Earwig Or Insect Test

The earwig or insect test is a method to check for insect damage. Insects are attracted to sweet, ripe corn, so if you find earwigs or other insects in your corn, it’s likely ready to be harvested.

There are several tests you can use to determine when corn is ready to pick. The thumb-puncture test, milk-line test, squeeze test, and earwig or insect test are all excellent ways to check the corn’s maturity level. By properly harvesting the corn, you can ensure that it is at its peak flavor and texture.

Harvesting Corn

Corn is one of the most versatile and widely grown crops around the world. Whether you prefer your corn grilled, boiled, roasted, or baked, there is nothing better than eating fresh corn straight from the garden.

But how do you know when the corn is ready to be picked?

Preparing For The Harvest

Before harvesting corn, there are a few things that you should consider.

  • Look out for the days to maturity of the corn variety that you planted. The days to maturity can vary from 60 to 100 days depending on the type of corn.
  • Observe the color of the husks, which should be a light brown color.
  • Check the silk of the corn; it should be dry and brown, not moist.
  • Test the kernels by piercing one with your fingernail; if a milky substance oozes out, that means the corn is still immature, but if the substance is watery, it is ready to be picked.

Picking Corn Manually

Now that you know how to tell when corn is ready to be picked, it’s time to learn how to pick it manually.

  • Grab the ear of corn firmly with one hand, holding it at the base.
  • Twist the ear of corn downward, pulling it away from the stalk in a swift, smooth motion.
  • Continue harvesting until all the corn has been picked.

Harvesting Corn With A Machine

If you have a large yield of corn, it’s best to consider using a machine for harvesting.

  • Use a combine harvester, which is a machine that removes the grain from the chaff and the stalk.
  • The machine picks the corn and wedges the ear into the picker head.
  • The corn is then stripped from the ear and transferred to a hopper bin.

Storing Corn After Harvest

After picking your corn, it’s essential to store it correctly to maintain its freshness.

  • Remove all the shucks and silk from the corn.
  • Place the ears of corn in a ventilated plastic bag in the refrigerator, making sure that the temperature is kept at or below 40 degrees fahrenheit.
  • You can also store the corn in the freezer. Blanch the corn by boiling it for 4 to 6 minutes, then placing it in ice water for another 4 to 6 minutes. Drain the corn and store it in an airtight container.
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Now that you know how to tell when corn is ready to be picked, you can enjoy fresh, delicious corn all season long. With these simple tips for harvesting, storing, and preparing, you’ll always know how to make the best use of the corn you harvest.

Final Thoughts: Ensuring Your Corn Is Ready To Pick

Corn is a staple food eaten in various forms, including corn on the cob, popcorn, polenta, and cornmeal. To ensure you get the best flavor and texture from your fresh corn, it is essential to pick it at the right time.

In this final section, we’ll discuss the importance of regular monitoring of corn progress, factors that can speed up or delay corn maturity, and the importance of picking corn at the right time for optimal taste and texture.

Importance Of Regular Monitoring Of Corn Progress

Regular monitoring of your corn plants is essential to determine when they are ready to pick.

  • Check for the silk color: as the corn gets closer to maturity, the silk that protrudes from the top of the cob will turn brown, dry, and wither away.
  • Inspect the kernels: another way to check if the corn is ready is to peel back the husk slightly and gently press a kernel. If it emits white, milky sap, it is ready to be harvested.
  • Examine the ears: look closely at the ears of corn and feel the kernels, they should feel plump and full.

Factors That Can Speed Up Or Delay Corn Maturity

Several factors can speed up or delay the maturity of your corn, including:

  • Temperature: an optimal temperature range of 68°f to 77°f is ideal for corn growth and maturity, but higher temperatures can speed up the process.
  • Soil moisture: too much or too little moisture can affect the growth and maturity of corn.
  • Planting time and corn variety: the planting date and the type of corn variety planted can also play a role in how soon the corn will be ready to harvest.

Importance Of Picking Corn At The Right Time For Optimal Taste And Texture

Picking corn at the right time is crucial to getting the optimal taste and texture. If you harvest corn too soon, the kernels will not be fully developed, while waiting too long can lead to them becoming tough and starchy.

  • Harvest at the right time: harvest corn when the kernels are plump, milky and juicy, and the silks have turned brown and dry. This point is known as the milk stage.
  • Don’t pick too late: delaying the harvest can cause the kernels to become tough and starchy.
  • Store it well: after harvesting, store fresh corn in a cool place and use it as soon as possible to retain its flavor and quality.

Monitoring the progress of your corn plants regularly, understanding the factors that can affect their maturity, and picking the corn at the right time are essential to ensuring you get the best-tasting corn. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh and delicious corn on the cob.


After reading this guide, you are now equipped with valuable insights on how to tell when corn is ready to pick. It is crucial to give your corn the time it needs to fully ripen before harvesting. Keep a close eye on the ear husks, kernels, and silk for signs that your crop is ready for harvesting.

And remember, harvesting your corn at the right time is crucial if you want sweet and juicy corn on your table. Once harvested, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Whether you roast it, boil it or grill it, the taste of fresh and ripe corn is unmatched.

With these tips in mind, you can now confidently go out to your garden and tell when your corn is ready to pick. Happy harvesting!