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When are Sweetcorn ready to harvest?

When are Sweetcorn ready to harvest?

The perfect time to pick sweetcorn!

It is simple enough in determining when tomatoes or strawberries are ripe - based on their colour and texture. How can we know when it's the correct time to pick our homegrown sweetcorn?

It is going to be difficult to know when sweetcorn cobs are ready to pick, especially if you have never grown them before because the entire cob is hidden by layer after layer of thick, fibrous husk. The trouble is that you need to get the timing right – pick too early and you have just wasted an ear, pick too late and the corn has lost all of its delicious, sweet flavour.

The ripening of the cob will of course depend on the weather, however you can expect it to be ready for harvesting anytime from 17 to 25 days after the time the first silks have appeared - but you are going to have to keep a close eye on it. 

There are lots of sweetcorn varieties and early maturing varieties will usually be ready first, but again this will depend on your sowing date. Of course sweetcorn plants will mature more quickly in hot weather and slower in cool weather.

As the growing corn ripens, the silks will look like this picture....

When is the right harvest time for picking fresh corn.

Your sweet corn are ready to harvest when the corn kernels are in the 'milk' stage, and there is a simple test that you can do to check this.

A very good indicator for this time would be when the silk turns brown.

When the fluid inside each kernel is still liquid and the skin of the kernel is still tender then the cob is ready for picking so puncture a kernel with your thumbnail to make sure. If a clear liquid appears, then the corn is immature. If a milky liquid, then the sweet corn is ready, and if no liquid appears then the corn is over-ripe.

Once the cobs have been picked they can turn very quickly as the sugar within the kernels will rapidly turn to starch. Even when stored properly they can be past their best within a couple of days which is why fresh sweet corn picked from your own garden always tastes better than shop bought.

However there are steps you can take to make the most of this short harvesting period. Try to harvest sweetcorn in the morning before you get a build up of field heat but if this is unavoidable submerge the cobs in cold water for a minute or so to let them cool down. Then – as soon as you can – they need to be refrigerated with a mind to being eaten over the next couple of days.

There is an old wives tale saying that for best taste, the pot should be full of boiling water when your own sweetcorn is picked, and although that is a slight exaggeration it does convey the importance of speed when it comes to picking and eating corn at its best.

Want to grow Sweetcorn?

Sweetcorn Seeds are fairly easy to grow if you remember basics:

  • Plant in a block, not a single row as the plants are wind pollinated
  • Sowing indoors for planting out later will give you a head start.
  • Plant different types (Sh2, ) away from each other to avoid cross pollination.
  • Grow in a sunny position.
  • Water well.
  • Mice and other small animals love to each the seeds!

For the sweetest and best taste these are our recommended varieties:

Sweetcorn 6800R
Sweetcorn 6800R

Grower Packet for larger growers and allotment.....

Av. Packet Contents: 150 Seeds

Sweetcorn Moonshine

Sweetcorn Moonshine produces bright golden kernels with excellent flavour.....

Av. Packet Contents : 30 seeds

Let us know your best sweetcorn growing tops! Leave a comment below and let everyone know....


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