How to Separate Sweet Corn Seeds

Overview

Sweet corn is a favorite treat of summer gardens, and is enjoyed on or off the cob. If you enjoy your sweet corn crop, and you planted non-hybrid seeds, you can save some of those seeds for next year's garden planting. (Hybrid seeds are specially engineered and will not produce a duplicate crop next season.) By separating and saving your sweet corn seed, you will not only have an heirloom crop, you will be saving seed money. In order to save sweet corn seed from this year's corn harvest for next year's crop, you first need to dry the cob before you separate the seeds.

Step 1

Leave a few of the best ears of your corn crop on the stalk when you harvest the other ears for eating.

Step 2

Wait for the corn husks to dry and turn brown. This usually takes between four and six weeks after the corn was ripe.

Step 3

Twist the dry ears off the stalks. Pull the husks back away from the corn kernels and tie them back with string.

Step 4

Hang the husked ears of corn up in a cool, dry area where they will be safe from rodents and squirrels. Allow them to hang dry for two to three months.

Step 5

Take down the ears of corn when the kernels are dry and wrinkly. To check for dryness, pop a kernel off the cob and hit it with a hammer. If it shatters, it is dry enough to be stored. If it simply compresses, then the kernels need to dry longer.

Step 6

Remove the dried corn seed from the cob by grasping the cob with both hands, and twisting each hand in a different direction. You will want to do this over an open paper bag to catch the kernels.

Step 7

Separate any smooth sweet corn seeds from the wrinkled ones, as well as any that are a different color. Discard these odd sweet corn seeds and save the uniform, wrinkled ones.

Step 8

Store the dried sweet corn kernels in a glass jar, as this will protect them from environmental moisture and pests such as mice. Store the glass jar in a cool area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Any moisture in the seeds will cause them to mold and rot, and make them unable to be used.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Paper bag
  • Hammer
  • Glass jar

References

  • International Seed Saving Institute: Corn
  • Canadian Organic Growers: Saving Seed of Open Pollinated Sweet Corn Varieties

Who Can Help

  • West Virginia University Extension Service: Sweet Corn Varieties and Production
Keywords: saving corn seed, sweet corn seed, harvesting corn seed

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper's, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.