3 Types of Sweet Corn
There is no substitute for the flavor of sweet corn just picked from the farm. Flavor and adaptability to your farm’s climate are the major considerations when choosing a corn variety. There are three types of fresh-eating sweet corn grouped by flavor: standard corn, sugary enhanced corn, and super sweet corn (adaptability to your farm’s climate–the soil and air temperature–is actually linked to the flavor type). Here’s how these corn types differ:
- Standard corn is the “old-fashioned” corn your grandfather grew; the corn with tasty corn flavor. These varieties–many are heirlooms and open-pollinated–have been around for years and years. Standard corn is plannable in cool soil, as cool as 55°F. This corn is best rushed to the kitchen and eaten within an hour of harvest.
- Sugary enhanced corn is hybrid varieties that keep their sweet flavor up to 3 days after harvest. Sugary enhanced hybrids give growers a 3-day window for harvest. (Near harvest time it is important to monitor standard corn each day to make sure you pick at the peak of its sweet flavor.) Sugary enhanced cultivars don’t require daily monitoring; pick sugary enhanced corn anytime within the 3 day peak flavor period. This type of corn demands soil temperatures about 10° warmer than standard corn.
- Super sweet corn is also hybrid varieties–the sweetest flavored of all corn. Super sweet corn varieties are sweeter than sugary enhanced varieties. Super sweets also have an enhanced harvest window of 3 to 5 days. One note, super sweet corn can be demanding: it requires soil no less than 65°F at planting time; it grows best when the soil is pre-warmed (cover beds with black plastic to warm the soil) and it is less vigorous than standard or sugary enhanced corn.
Standard corn varieties:
• Butter and Sugar. 73 days. Bicolor white and yellow kernels, good flavor; 7 to 8-inch ears. Resists bacterial wilt and southern corn leaf blight.
• Golden Cross Bantam. 85 days. Large yellow kernels. Uniform ears 7½ to 8 inches long with 10 to 14 rows per ear. Sturdy stalk to 6 feet; very prolific. Resists bacterial wilt.
• Jubilee. 83 days. Sweet, tender, yellow kernels for fresh eating or processing. Large ears, 8 to 9 inches long with 16 rows. Strong sturdy stalks from 7 to 7½ feet. Resists smog and smut.
• Silver Queen. 88 days. Very sweet, tender, snow white kernels; ears 8 to 9 inches long with 14 to16 rows. Holds for several days without losing quality. Stalk grows 7½ to 8 feet tall. Widely adapted. Resists bacterial wilt and Stewart’s wilt.
Sugary enhanced corn varieties:
• Breeder’s Choice. 73 days. Extra sweet, tender, creamy, light yellow kernels. Stays sweet for 10 to 14 days after reaching maturity. Most stalks bear two ears, 16 to 18 full rows. Plant to 7 feet.
• Concord (Also called Moore’s Early Concord). Tender, sweet, bicolor kernels. Ears 6 to 8 inches long with 12 to 16 rows. Stalks to 5 feet. Early harvest.
• How Sweet It Is. 87 days. Sweet, tender, crisp, white kernels. Flavor holds well on stalks and in storage. Slightly tapered ears to 8 inches long with 18 to 22 rows of kernels. Stalks to 6½ feet tall produce 2 ears per stalk. Widely adapted. All-America selection; resists most diseases.
• Kandy Korn. 89 days. Sweet, tender, golden yellow kernels. Excellent for freezing and canning. Uniform ears to 8 inches long with 16 to 18 rows. Stalks 8 to 9 feet tall. Adapts to the wide range of climates.
Super sweet corn varieties:
- Early Extra Sweet.71 days. Extra sweet golden yellow kernels, small and tender. Uniform ears, 7 to 9 inches long with 12 to 16 rows of kernels. Vigorous plant, 5 to 6 feet tall. Ready 2 weeks earlier than Illini Xtra-Sweet. All-America selection; resists most diseases.
- Butterfruit Original Early.72 days. Bright yellow kernels, savory flavor; tightly packed ears. Plant to 5 feet tall. Mature extra early.
- Sweetie.82 days. Exceptionally sweet, tender-crisp, deep golden yellow kernels. Slightly tapered ears 7 to 8 inches long with 14 to 18 rows of kernels. Stalks to 6 feet. Retains sweetness for a long period, both in the field and when harvested. 30 percent fewer calories than regular corn. Excellent for home gardens.
- Illini Xtra Sweet.85 days. Sweet, golden yellow kernels; 14 to 18 rows per ear. Plant to 6½ feet. Freezes well.
- Super-sweet Jubilee.85-100 days. Super sweet, white kernels, 18 rows per ear. Plants to 5 feet. Short yield.
Baby corn varieties:
- Baby Asian.Finger-size cobs with white kernels. Tender and delicately flavored. Use in stir-fries, vegetable salads, and pickles. Harvest shortly after silks appear.
- Black Popcorn.100 days. Deep blue to black kernels that pop white with a blue tinge at base; rich flavor. Larger ears and kernels than standard popcorn.
- Gold Hybrid Popcorn.105 days. Excellent quality popping corn; pops large.
- Peppy Hybrid.90 days. Kernels pop large and tender. Small ears to 4 inches long. Stalks grow 5 to 6 feet tall; high yielding, 2 or 3 ears per stalk.
- White Cloud.95-100 days. Tender, fluffy white, hull-less popping corn with excellent flavor. Small plump ears to about 4 inches long, well-filled. High yield. Grows well in cooler regions.