How to Process Corn Seed

Overview

There are many reasons to process and save your own corn seed, from passing heirloom seeds down from generation to generation, to simply saving money on next season's crop. If you have planted nonhybrid corn, you can process and save some of the seeds for future use. Hybrid seeds may produce a better crop, but they have been engineered to do so, which means that offspring from that good crop may be inferior to the parent crop. If you are unsure if you planted hybrid or nonhybrid, check with the outlet where you purchased your corn seed, or start fresh by planting nonhybrid seeds this season. Once you have begun processing your own seeds, you will know they are from a trusted source year after year.

Step 1

Select some of your best ears of corn and leave them on the stalk for seed. When you harvest the other ears for eating, the ears you choose for seeds should remain on the stalks to begin the drying process.

Step 2

Keep an eye on the ears of corn you've chosen to make into seed. When the husks have turned brown, twist the ears off the stalk. This can be up to six weeks after the other ears were harvested.

Step 3

Peel the husks back away from the corncob, as if you are peeling the corn, but don't tear them off the cob. Instead, tie the husks back by tying a string around them and knotting it. Hang the cobs up by hooking the string over a nail or a hook, in a dry environment, where pests cannot reach them. Leave the drying cobs in place for three months.

Step 4

Remove the corn from its hanging position after three months, or when the kernels are completely dry. The best way to know the kernels are sufficiently dry is to peel one kernel off and hit it with a hammer. A dry seed will shatter into several pieces, while a seed that is not completely dry will not shatter but will just crack and squish.

Step 5

Process the seed off the cobs by grabbing each cob with both hands and wringing it over a large window screen laying on a flat surface. The corn seed will fall off the cob and onto the screen. Separate the seed from any debris that may fall with it.

Step 6

Put the dried and processed corn seed into a glass jar or metal container, and store it in a cool area.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never let moisture get on you seed between processing and storage, as it will cause it to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • String
  • Nails or cup hooks
  • Window screen
  • Hammer
  • Glass jar

References

  • International Seed Saving Institute: Corn
  • Seed Ambassador's Project: A Guide to Seed Saving
  • Colorado State University Extension: Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds
Keywords: processing corn seed, harvest corn seed, corn seed processing

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.