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How to Save Corn Seeds

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How to Save Corn Seeds

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Overview

Sweet corn provides a wealth of vitamins, minerals and protein. Corn enhances soups, stews and salsa and can also be ground into meal and flour for cereal, bread and tortillas. Corn is broken into three classes--normal sugary, sugar enhancer and super sweet--depending on sugar levels in kernels. Most sweet corn varieties mature within 50 to 90 days of planting. Sweet corn is at the peak of freshness when prepared directly after harvest; however, it can be preserved through freezing or canning for later use.

Step 1

Plant extra corn, specifically for propagation, at the beginning of the season. The more corn harvested for seed, the better the results in future plantings.

Step 2

Inspect the seed corn for disease or insect infestation by pulling back husks. Discard any ears that appear compromised or damaged.

Step 3

Leave the seed corn on the stalks for four to six weeks after harvest of edible corn. Husks and stalks should be golden brown before the seed corn is ready to harvest.

Step 4

Harvest the fully ripened seed corn and hang the ears on hangers to dry. Pull the husks back from ears, and secure each one to the hanger with a clothes pin.

Step 5

Place the hangers in a cool, dry location for up to three months to complete the drying process, making sure that there is adequate space for air flow.

Step 6

Check the ears occasionally for any signs of moisture or decay.

Step 7

Remove any smooth or discolored kernels before beginning the shelling process. Inferior kernels produce inferior plants.

Step 8

Shell the seeds in a large bowl, gripping and twisting each ear with both hands to dislodge the seeds.

Step 9

Place the corn seeds in airtight jars, clearly labeled with the date and variety.

Tips and Warnings

  • Different corn varieties should be grown at least 1000 feet apart to avoid cross pollination.

Things You'll Need

  • Sweet corn
  • Hangers
  • Clothes pins
  • Bowl
  • Glass jars with lids
  • Labels
  • Marker or pen

References

  • International Seed Saving Institute: Corn
  • Ecological Agriculture Projects: Saving Seed of Open Pollinated Sweet Corn Varieties
  • University of Illinois Extension: Corn
Keywords: saving corn seed, propagating corn varieties, sweet corn seed

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.