Corn, also known as maize, originated in Mexico 9000 years ago and is now the staple food of many countries across the world. There are many different hybrids and cultivars of corn today. Some are designed for human consumption while others are more suited to animal feed. But have you ever wondered how many ears of corn grow on one stalk? Read on to find out more.
How Many Ears of Corn Grow on One Stalk?
Most varieties of corn produce one to two ears of corn per stalk. Though cultivars differ in their focus and what they offer, the first ear is always more robust and of a better quality than the second ear.
For this reason, many commercial farmers choose a variety that is designed for high-density planting. Each stalk then produces one large, top-quality ear of corn. Plants are planted very close together ensuring maximum use of space.
Farmers growing baby corn for retail choose cultivars that produce 6 to 10 ears of corn per stalk. These do not need to grow well and big as they are harvested very early. Quantity is what these farmers are looking for rather than size and quality.
What is an Ear of Corn?
Before going further let’s take a quick look at corn lingo. Corn is also known as maize. They are exactly the same thing.
Corn Cob: the cob is the central core on which the kernels grow.
Kernels: kernels are the seeds of the corn, and the part we eat.
Corn Husk: the husk is made up of the leaves that wrap around the cob.
Corn Silk: the silk is also known as the beard. It is a collection of fine strands that grow from the top of the ear.
Corn Ear: the ear is the cob, kernels, husk, and silk. We harvest the ears of corn when they are mature.
How Many Kernels Does Corn Have?
The average number of kernels on an ear of corn is 800 which is grown over 16 rows.
Though this number depends on the quality of care of the corn plant. Plants need plenty of water, sunlight, and nitrogen to flourish. The ear’s quality depends on the temperature throughout pollination, soil nutrients, and the amount of water during ear development.
The happier the corn plant, the more kernels will be healthy and viable.
How Much Corn Should I Plant Per Person?
For a family of 4, plant 12 – 16 plants at the beginning of the season. Then repeat every two weeks to ensure a constant supply of fresh corn.
How many plantings you do will depend on the length of your area’s growing season. Corn does like warm weather preferring temperatures on average 68-86 °F (20-30 °C).
How much corn you need to plant per person will of course depend on how often you want to eat corn. It also depends on whether you want to only eat the corn fresh or if you want to grow extra corn to store it for the winter.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that a portion size of corn is ½ a cup. Each ear of corn yields approximately ½ cup of kernels so each person would need one ear of corn per serving.
Each stalk produces 2 ears of corn so one plant would feed one person for 2 days, working on the assumption that you want to eat corn in some form every day. Eating corn every day may become too much. Eating corn two to three times a week might be more practical. So one to two stalks per person per week would be plenty of corn.
If you are not managing to keep up with all the corn eating, you can freeze the kernels very successfully. Corn can be frozen in three ways: blanched, raw or whole.
Whole corn on the cobs can be placed raw into freezer bags and into the freezer. They can then be removed and boiled from frozen when needed. They are a little chewy and watery but still delicious.
Raw kernels can be cut off the cob and placed in freezer bags. These are ideal for adding to recipes that require cooking but are not great in salads.
Blanched corn kernels: corn is boiled on the cob for 2-3 minutes and then cut off and placed in freezer bags. These can be added to salads, heated as a vegetable, or used in recipes. If you have leftover corn on the cob after a meal just cut the kernels off and pop them in the freezer.
Related: Easy Corn Fritter Recipe With Basil
How Long Does Ripe Corn Last on the Stalk?
It is obviously ideal to eat corn as it is ripe as this is when it has the most flavor and is juicy and tender. The longer you leave the corn on the stalk the dryer it will get and will become tough and chewy. Ears of corn can be picked and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It is best to leave them whole, as you picked them, with their husks on. This will help to keep them fresh until you need them.
How Long Does Corn Take to Mature?
Most corn varieties will take between 60 and 100 days to mature.
There are many different cultivars of corn and they differ slightly in their growing time. The weather and amount of water will also have an impact on growing time.
How Do I Know When Corn is Ready to Harvest?
Corn is ready to harvest when the ears have turned dark green and the silk or beard is brown and dry. If you open a husk the kernels should be soft and plump. And should you squeeze a kernel, the juice should be milky, not clear.
If you do pull the husk away to check the kernels are ripe, the plant is now open to pests and disease. Try to close it up again as best you can and try not to open husks unnecessarily.
How Do I Know When to Harvest Baby Sweet Corn?
Baby sweet corn is harvested much earlier than other corn. The beard or silk should still be pale yellow. The cobs should be between 10 and 15 centimeters long. Baby sweet corn is a hybrid of sweet corn that produces many ears per stalk. If left to grow they will grow as big as sweet corn but may not have the same quality. If you have planted many sweet corn stalks you could begin harvesting them early and using them as baby corn, leaving others to grow to full size to be eaten as regular corn.
Home Fertilizer for Corn
Corn needs plenty of nitrogen, along with water and sunshine, to thrive. Native Americans used to bury fish heads in the field before planting corn. Today, you can buy nitrogen-rich fertilizers for your corn patch but many gardeners prefer not to use commercial fertilizers. If this is the case for you, here are some home fertilizer options.
Soybean Meal: soybean meal has approximately 7 percent nitrogen so is ideal for corn growing.
Fish fertilizer: the liquid form or the granular fish-based fertilizers are good for corn.
Manure: Animal manure is high in nitrogen. For best results, it should be dug into the soil in the winter and turned over in the spring before planting.
Coffee grounds: coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and can be added to the soil before planting or during the early growth phase.
Peas and beans: these are nitrogen-fixing plants which means they add nitrogen to the soil. It is a good idea to plant corn this year in the patch you planted peas or beans last year. Corn plants sap the soil of nitrogen so plant peas or beans in the corn patch the following year to ensure your soil remains fertile and balanced.
Corn is a wonderfully versatile plant, giving nourishment and enjoyment to both humans and animals. Although only one or two ears of corn grow on each stalk, each ear supplies a huge amount of energy and nutrition. Corn is very rewarding to grow and delicious to eat.
Some Favorite Gardening Products