Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Sweeter Sweet Corn (page 3 of 3)

by Warren Schultz

Varieties to Choose From

Not every SE variety will stand that test of time. Watson says that there is a wide range of quality among the 100 or so SE varieties on the market. Here are a few of his favorites (the number in parentheses is days to harvest).

White
'Frosty' (70) White corn is normally less cold-soil tolerant than yellow varieties, but 'Frosty' rated 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 in cold-soil trials; it forms a nice, big, blocky ear.

Yellow
'Miracle' (78) An old variety, but still one of the best choices for home gardeners because of its shorter stalks--just 5-1/2 to 6 feet.

'Advantage' (64) The earliest yellow variety; fantastic cold-soil tolerance and the best way to beat your neighbor to harvest with a quality corn.

Bicolor
'First Choice' (64) As early as 'Advantage'; above-average cold-soil tolerance.

'Trinity'(69) Just a little later than 'First Choice', but with a better cold-soil tolerance rating of 4 to 4.5 out of 5.

'Lancelot'(80) A real workhorse; huge ears; quality beyond belief; picks very easily.

'Summer Delicious'(90) Seed always sells out; handles cold fall temperatures very well.

Watson says that a single planting of four varieties, ranging from early to late, will give home gardeners a steady supply of corn for four to five weeks. For example, plant 'Trinity', 'Precious Gem', 'Lancelot', and 'Summer Delicious'. In fact, he says a patch of 'Summer Delicious' alone can produce good, sweet ears for up to two weeks in cool autumn conditions.

When to Harvest

Whichever variety you choose, Watson counsels patience. Give the SE varieties a chance to mature fully. "They make up half of their sugar in the last couple of days of maturity," he says. "And they often look ready before they're at their peak. If you pick a few ears and the flavor doesn't knock your socks off, let the corn mature on the stalk a few days. Good things happen quickly with SE corn."

Warren Schultz, Essex Junction, Vermont, is the author of several gardening books.

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