Harvesting Corn: Tips & Strategies For Reaping Your Rewards

when to harvest corn

Harvesting corn is an important part of the growing process. Knowing when to harvest your corn can mean the difference between a successful crop and one that yields disappointing results. This article will discuss when to harvest your corn for optimal results, along with best practices for harvesting success, ripeness tests, factors that affect when to harvest, differences between early season and late season varieties, planting dates, examining individual kernels and ears, strategies for keeping pests away from your corn crops, and benefits of using fertilizer during growth periods.

Introduction To Harvesting Corn

Corn has long been one of the most popular staple foods in North America and around the world. Growing corn takes skill, patience, and knowledge, but reaping the rewards of a successful harvest can be immensely rewarding. Understanding how to correctly time your harvests and recognize signs of readiness are key components to harvesting corn at its prime.

Best Practices For Successful Harvests

The most important factor in successfully harvesting your corn is timing. The best time to begin looking for signs of readiness depends on both the variety and the conditions in which you have grown it. To help ensure a successful harvest, it’s also important to keep your crop free of weeds and pests and fertilize as needed throughout the growth period.

Ripeness Tests & Identification Marks

One way to determine if your corn is ready to be harvested is by performing a “ripeness test”. When performed properly, this test will provide insight into whether or not the ear of corn is ripe enough for harvest. Some characteristics used to assess ripeness include color, texture, size, and shape of the husk leaves. Additionally, look for the black layer near the base of the kernel that indicates full maturity.

Factors That Affect When To Harvest Corn

The amount of sunlight, water, temperature, and soil type all play a role in determining when to harvest corn. If your crop is planted too close together or there is excessive rainfall, your corn may mature faster than expected. Conversely, cooler temperatures and lack of moisture can cause slower maturation. In addition, different varieties of corn reach their peak maturity at different times.

Differences Between Early Season & Late Season Varieties

Early-season varieties tend to be more disease resistant while late-season varieties generally produce larger ears of corn. Early season varieties usually reach maturity within 70-90 days after planting while late season varieties require 80-110 days before reaching maturity.

Timing Plantings & Planting Dates For Each Variety

To determine when to plant each variety, consider local weather patterns as well as average first frost date in order to make sure that your crop has plenty of time to grow before the cold sets in. Consider planting early season varieties 6-8 weeks prior to average first frost date and late season varieties 8-10 weeks prior to average first frost date.

Examining Individual Kernels & Ears

Individual kernels and ears should also be examined closely for any signs of illness or injury. Symptoms such as wilting or discoloration can indicate problems that could prevent you from achieving a successful harvest. Healthy ears should appear plump and firm with even spacing between rows of kernels.

Strategies For Keeping Pests Away From Your Corn Crop

Pests can quickly decimate a corn crop if left unchecked so it’s important to take measures to protect your plants from them. Make sure to remove any diseased plants immediately and employ natural pest control methods like companion planting and trap cropping. You can also use insecticides if necessary but be sure to read labels carefully and follow instructions for safe application.

Benefits Of Using Fertilizer During Growth Periods

Fertilizing your corn crop can help promote healthy growth and ultimately result in better yields. Adding organic matter or compost prior to planting can help add essential nutrients to the soil and help retain moisture levels. After planting, apply nitrogen rich fertilizer every few weeks until tasseling begins in order to support strong growth throughout the growing season.


Knowing when to harvest your corn can greatly influence your crop’s success and yield quality results. Taking into consideration things such as variety, local climate conditions, identification marks, individual kernels/ears, pest prevention techniques, and proper fertilizer usage are all critical steps towards harvesting a bountiful bounty of sweet summertime corn. With a little bit of knowledge and planning ahead of time, you’ll soon be enjoying delicious homegrown ears of golden goodness!

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