Corn Is too tough to eat - what happened?

Maize (corn)    Florida

One of my customers called the other day and is upset because his corn, although the plants grew beautifully, came out so tough, no one could eat it!

He has grown corn in the past with great success, although he grew hybrid Varieties, like Silver Queen. This time he wanted Heirloom, and he chose Country Gentleman White Shoepeg. He planted in May, and picked the corn just at maturity, not letting it linger too long on the plants.

What could possibly be the reason his corn came out so tough? He shared some with family and they don't want any more of it! :)

Posted by: Shi1 (8 points) Shi1
Posted: August 14, 2013


Did you check that, at the time of picking, it was at the milky stage? When punctured with a thumbnail, the soft kernels should produce a milky juice

The following is from an extension document at Iowa State (page 3). It says that the toughness can be because it is overmature. http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publ...

"Sweet corn is ready to harvest approximately 15 to 23 days after the silks emerge. Corn matures faster in hot weather and slower in cool weather. Sweet corn should be harvested when the silks are brown and dry at the ear tip. This is the milk stage - when punctured with a thumbnail, the soft kernels produce a milky juice. Sweet corn remains in the milk stage for a short time. In hot weather, sweet corn may remain in prime condition for only 1 or 2 days. Overmature corn is tough and doughy."

Did your customer grow a large stand. Here is video of a recent field where the farmer talks about areas just a few feet apart can be at really different stages (due to wetness at the start of the season)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzpKf... from about 40 seconds

Posted by: David Hughes (54 points) David Hughes
Posted: August 15, 2013

Shi1 commented,
This is very good information and I thank you for offering this info for me to pass on.

Yes, he grew nearly 200 stalks.

I will contact him and tell him where I got this help from. Thank you very much.

almost 7 years ago.

David Hughes commented,
you are very welcome.
almost 7 years ago.

It could have been over-mature, as mentioned above. This variety is said to maintain its peak quality longer than some hybrids.

Another possible problem could have been that his corn was cross-pollinated by someone else's field corn from upwind. It is possible for corn pollen to travel one-half mile in a 15 mph wind according to Purdue University http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/n...

But even under those conditions, it isn't likely that ALL of the Country Gentleman corn would be contaminated. If the poor quality of his corn was consistent, it was probably more likely that he picked it too late.

As with any new crop, a person usually has to grow it for a few years to see how it does under his local conditions. Gardening and agriculture is a continual learning experience!

Posted by: FussyOldHen (16 points) FussyOldHen
Posted: August 17, 2013

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