How to Grow Corn Without Buying Seed


Home grown corn tastes better than any you can buy at the grocery store. But seeds can be expensive, or maybe you grew a variety you really liked but cannot find seeds any longer. Harvesting your own corn seeds for planting in the years to come, either from your own garden or a garden of a friend, is cost effective and fairly easy to do.

Harvesting Corn Seeds

Step 1

Select the healthiest, mature and non-hybrid corn stalks to harvest seeds from the ears--seeds saved from hybrid varieties will not reproduce corn ears on the stalks for the next planting. Begin by keeping the ears on the stalk, which should be beginning to dry and turn brown.

Step 2

Cover the selected corn ears with a paper bag and tie string around the bottom to secure it. This will keep bugs or grubs out. Do this on a warm and sunny day so there will be no dew or moisture trapped inside. Do not use a plastic bag; the corn ear needs to breath, and a paper bag will allow it.

Step 3

Allow the bag-covered corn ear to dry on its stalk as long as possible. When the corn stalk is dried out and dead, remove the paper bag and separate the cob from the stalk.

Step 4

Peel back the husk on the cob, but do not remove it. Use the husk to hang the corn cob in a warm, dry place, away from direct sun. It may take up to two to three months for the corn seeds to thoroughly dry, but they must be completely dry to avoid mold and for successful germination later.

Step 5

Break off the kernels of corn by twisting the cob in your hand. If they're dry, they should come off easily.

Step 6

Store the harvested corn seeds in an air-tight container and place the container in the freezer or in a cool spot. If you store your seeds in the freezer, they will be good to plant for many years. Corn seeds not stored in the freezer should be planted the following year for optimum germination.

Step 7

Use your harvested corn seeds to plant the following late spring, when the soil has warmed to around 65 degrees F. Plant your corn seeds the same as if you had purchased them; the corn seeds you harvested the fall before will grow just as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Mature corn ears on stalk
  • Paper bag
  • String
  • Air tight container


  • Virtual Seeds: Successful Seed Saving
  • McGill University: Saving Seed of Open Pollinated Sweet Corn Varieties
  • Organic Growing from Down Under: Sweet Corn

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University: About Growing Corn
  • University of Illinois Extension: All About Corn Growing
Keywords: harvesting corn seeds, saving corn seeds, corn seed saving

About this Author

At home in rural California, Kate Carpenter has been writing articles and web content for several well known marketeers since 2007. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas and A Master of Education equivalent from the University of Northern Colorado, Carpenter brings a wealth of diverse experience to her writing.