NOTE: This file contains only information specific to the production of baby
corn. For a complete guide to sweet corn cultural practices, see the file Sweet Corn for Processing
For information on baby corn from Washington State University, see Baby Corn Production.
All commercial baby corn is imported already processed
from countries with low labor costs.
It is hand harvested and hand husked from immature corn at or within 1-2 days
after silking. The main varieties used are either prolific (multiple-eared) starchy feed corn
types (Su), or supersweet (sh2). Research indicates the quality (sweetness and crispness) is equally
good for all genotypes, but that yields are higher with prolific (multi-eared) starchy types.
Varieties with small kernels and long ears are particularly suited. Pickled baby corn imported from Taiwan
and Thailand is
produced from special field corn (Su) varieties developed there for that
purpose such as Tainan
No. 5, Tainan No. 11, Tainung No. 351, or a supersweet corn such as Florida
Varieties for Trial
The following varieties are sold and advertised by seed companies as suitable for growing and harvesting as baby corn:
Little Indian (Peters), Baby (Nichols), Golden Midget (aka Golden Miniature, Shumway or Park), Glacier
(Fishers), Miniature Hybrid (Park), Baby Asian (Le Marche), Baby Blue, Bo Peep (Shepherd's),
Strawberry Popcorn (Shepherd's).
Washington State University trials have included the following varieties: Babycorn, Bodacious, GH2283, Kandy King, Tendertreat, and Tuxedo.
The following descriptions were provided by the University of Florida Extension Service in the Vegetarian newsletter:
'Baby': tender, finger-like ears, delicately flavored, entirely edible. Excellent for freezing. Best harvested within 5 days of appearance of silks.
'Golden Midget': Ears 3-5 inches long, 8-12 rows of butter-yellow kernels. Plant is 20-40 inches tall, 3-5 ears/plant.
'Glacier': Short-season, dwarf white.
'Baby Blue': (popcorn) blue ears, 3-4 inches long. Multiple ears on 5 foot-tall plant.
'Bo Peep': (popcorn) pink ears.
IsolationIsolation from other types of corn does not affect the baby corn crop
as the ears are harvested before pollination. However, adjacent sweet corn plantings could
be affected by pollen from baby corn varieties of unlike genetic background. The baby corn crop planting
can also be affected if some ears are left to be harvested as sweet corn. (See ISOLATION in the file Sweet Corn for Processing).
SpacingFor baby corn two systems are used. One system uses
of about 23,000
plants per acre, where the top ear is left on the plant for grain corn or
sweet corn, and subsequent
ears harvested for baby corn. The second system uses high plant populations
of between 34,000
and 44,000 plants per acre where all ears are harvested for baby corn. Row
spacings range from
24-36 inches apart. The standard plant populations produce yields of about
4,000 lb unhusked ears (400 lb husked ears) per acre, while the high populations
produce yields of about 8,000-10,000 lb unhusked ears (800-1000 lb of husked ears) per
Baby corn has to be hand picked at, or within 1-2 days after silks
emerge from the ear tip. Feed
corn varieties are harvested at silking, while supersweet varieties may be
harvested up to the time
silks are about 2 inches long but still fresh. Determine suitability of ears
for picking by sampling
for size. Market requirements limit size to 4.5-10 cm in length and 7-17 mm
in diameter. Ears
quickly become too long and tough. Carefully remove and husk the ear so as
not to break or
damage it. Ears intended for processing must be carefully hand husked and
immediately by pickling or canning.
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