How to Save Your Own Corn Seeds to Grow


Originally a grass with small kernels, years of saving and planting the biggest and most desired seeds has resulted in sweet corn prized for its juicy, tender kernels. Saving your own seed from desired cultivars helps preserve corn, but keep in mind that many new varieties are hybrids that will not reproduce true to form. Although the seeds generally germinate, the fruit produced may lack the characteristic color, size or flavor you seek.

Step 1

Select healthy well-formed ears free of any signs of disease or insect damage. Choose those with the characteristics (height, flavor, ear or kernel size, days to maturity) you wish to preserve. Mark the stalks for later seed gathering.

Step 2

Allow corn to mature on the stalk. This typically requires four to six weeks after the eating stage. Look for fully developed kernels inside brown dry husks.

Step 3

Pick corn on a cool, dry day when foliage is dry. Pull back husks and hang ears upside down in a cool, dry well-ventilated area. Check corn often for any signs of mold or moisture. Discard any ears that show signs of mold or mildew. Turn ears to dry evenly.

Step 4

Hold the ear of corn over an open paper bag. Twist the kernels off the cob by hand, allowing them to fall into the bag.

Step 5

Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark area until spring. Replant in spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Twine
  • Paper bag
  • Airtight container


  • Exploratorium: Why Save Seeds?
  • International Seed Saving Institute: Corn
  • University of Illinois Extension: Saving Seed from the Garden

Who Can Help

  • TAMU Extension: Hybrid Varieties and Saving Seed
  • Mother Earth News: The Return of a Great Corn Variety
Keywords: save corn seeds, dry corn, save corn kernels, dry corn ears

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.