Initial invest is relatively low, and many field operations - such as land preparation, planting, and also harvesting - can be custom-hired.

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Sweet Corn Ears

Corn (maize) is aboriginal to America and has been grew in central America since 3500 BC. That was critical food that the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas that Mexico, as well as the cliff dwellers that the southwestern united States. Iroquois in Pennsylvania and new York grew a variety of sweet corn that turned blue together it matured. Cortés carried corn come Spain, and from there it was easily introduced right into France and Italy. Today, corn is third, following wheat and also rice, in people grain production.

Between 2.2 and also 2.9 billion pounds the sweet corn are produced annually in the joined States. Over the previous ten years, nationwide production has actually fluctuated about 260,000 acres. Acreage in Pennsylvania has decreased by about one-quarter throughout that time to about 16,000 acres annually. Nationally, the sweet corn chop is precious $750-850 million per year. ~ above the communication of worth of production, the top 5 sweet corn claims are Florida, California, Washington, new York, and also Georgia.


Sweet corn get an impression in Pennsylvania is usually obtainable from at an early stage July to the end of September. Fresh-market sweet corn is traditionally offered from open mass containers or by the dozen in paper or cellophane bags. Numerous marketing choices are accessible to the sweet corn grower: everyone marketing, produce auctions, cooperatives, local retailers, roadside stands, and pick-your own operations. The processing sector is only suitable for large, highly mechanized growers. Once planning production, very first consider your capability to market. You need to conduct some market research due to the fact that growers regularly overestimate their capability to sell in a offered market. Production of less than one acre of countless vegetable crops is common for most growers.

In all marketing, producers frequently contract with shippers to market and also ship the sweet corn because that a predetermined price. If you execute not use a contractor and choose to ship her corn to a wholesale market yourself, your product will be subject to the greatest price fluctuations. Produce auctions run weekly; however, girlfriend must provide the sweet corn to the auction. Marketing cooperatives normally use a daily pooled cost and price, which spreads price fluctuations over all participating producers. Local retailers space another possible market, yet you need to take the moment to contact produce supervisors and administer good-quality sweet corn once stores need it. For much more information on marketing, top Fruit and also Vegetable Marketing for Small-Scale and Part-Time Growers.

Retail marketing options, consisting of roadside stand (either your own or another grower"s) and also pick-your-own operations carry out opportunities because that you to receive greater than wholesale price for her sweet corn. You will certainly have added expenses for advertising, building and also maintaining a facility, and also providing service to her customers. With pick-your-own operations, you conserve on harvest costs, however you should be willing to have actually customers on your farm and accept part waste. Farmer"s industries are one more retail option, however you should call the industries well in advance of the marketing season to it is in sure room is obtainable and to uncover out what demands you need to follow. For an ext information about roadside markets, see occurring a Roadside farm yard Market.

Site Selection

Sweet corn grows best on well-drained soils the have good water-holding characteristics. If you thrive sweet corn ~ above sandy soil, watering is important for optimum pollination and kernel development. Floor should have a pH that 5.8-6.6. When cultivation early sweet corn, use soils that warm quickly and locations through a southerly exposure to ensure early on growth and harvest.

Sweet Corn Types

Corn is classified as sweet, pop, flour, silage, or feed corn, depending upon the type of carbohydrate save on computer in the ear. Sweet corn it s okay its name from one-of-a-kind genes that protect against or retard the regular conversion of sugar to starch during kernel development. In addition to the various sugar types, sweet corn cultivars differ in kernel color (yellow, white, and also bicolor) and maturation times--early (less 보다 70 days), midseason (70 come 84 days), and late (more than 84 days). Shrunken-2 varieties should be planted at the very least 500 feet from all other corn varieties or planted at least two weeks previously or later on than other types since shrunken-2 ranges pollinated by other corn species will create starchy kernels.

Sweet corn genotypes and sugar content for commercially-available cultivarsGenotypeGenes current 1Variety exampleKernelsIsolation 2
NormalsuSilver Queen, Sundance100% normalSupersweet, augmented sh2
Sugary Enhancedsu, seSilverado, silver King, Brilliance25-100% sugary enhancedSupersweet, augmented sh2
Supersweetsh2Snow White, Boreal100% supersweetNormal, sugary enhanced (all), synergistic (all)
Synergisticsu, se, sh2Sweet Bread, TripleSweet0-56% normal, 19-75% sugary enhanced, 25% tender, supersweetSupersweet, augmented sh2
Augmented Shrunkense, sh2Gourmet Sweet, Extra-Tender100% soft supersweetNormal, sugary magnified (all), synergistic (all)
Mirasu, se, sh2Mirai 002100% soft supersweetnone necessary

1. Su = typical sugar types; se = sugar-enhanced cultivars; sh2 = shrunken-2 cultivars.

2. To protect against starchy kernels, isolate by at the very least 500 feet or at least 12 work in silking. Every sweet corn have to be isolated native field and popcorn ranges by a distance of at the very least 500 feet.

Recommended sweet corn cultivars for PennsylvaniaColorCultivarGenotype
YellowSeneca Horizon (BWMS*)se
YellowKing Arthurse
YellowIncredible (BWR)su, se
YellowSuper Sweet 7210sh2
WhiteSeneca Starshinese
WhiteIce Queensh2
WhiteQuick silver (BWMS)su
WhiteSweet Icesu, se, sh2
WhiteSuper Sweet 8701sh2
WhiteEven Sweetersh2
WhiteAvalonsu, se, sh2
WhiteSilverado (BWMS)se
WhiteSilver Kingse
WhiteSilver Queen (BWMS)su
BicolorSweet SymphonySB
BicolorProvidencesu, se, sh2
BicolorDelectablesu, se
BicolorSynergysu, se, sh2
BicolorTwice as Nicesh2

Note: every cultivars within a shade grouping are detailed in bespeak of tires (early come late).

*BWMS = bacterial it must be moderately susceptible.

Planting and Fertilization

Sweet corn seed typically is planted once soil temperatures with at least 55°F and also the possibility of tough frosts (24°F or lower) has actually passed in the area. In southerly Pennsylvania, shot to plant in at an early stage to mid-April, and in northern Pennsylvania, in center to late May. Relying on cultivar and also planting equipment, the optimal plant population is in between 14,000 and 24,000 plants per acre. It is recommended that you sow 10 pounds of corn seed per acre 8-12 customs apart and in rows 30-44 inch apart. Leaving space for a drive heat will also assist through pesticide application and also harvest. Spacing decisions rely on the heat spacing of her equipment and the capability to irrigate.

You can develop early sweet corn (ready through July 4) in Pennsylvania by planting short-season varieties and also using clear plastic mulch. The mulch deserve to be put down in at an early stage spring and also the corn planted through the plastic with a special planter, or the corn can be planted in dual rows around 18 inches apart in furrows, v the plastic inserted over the 2 rows of planted corn. You should put soil along the edges of the twin rows to rise the distance in between the bottom of the particle furrow and the height of the plastic (ideally 6-8 inches). Remove the plastic from the sweet corn rows as soon as air temperature under the mulch over 90°F for 3 consecutive days. Sweet corn transplants additionally can be offered to get an early crop, yet they are not helpful on a big scale (more 보다 an acre). If sweet corn transplants are ready for planting, but field problems are no favorable, the corn grows also fast and also cannot easily be transplanted 12-18 job after emergence.

Fertilizer rates have to be based on soil test outcomes and form of sweet corn planted. Banding fertilizer is encourage over broadcast fertilizer applications. Some of the nitrogen have to be sidedressed during growing if not utilizing plasticulture manufacturing methods. The plants must be 24 inch high once sidedressed.

No-Till Sweet Corn

For center or so late season sweet corn production, no-till planting have the right to be a benefit in relation to time, equipment, and also labor. Sweet corn have the right to be planted with a no-till planter in a minimally ready bed with only second tillage, such as an S-tine cultivator, or in a formerly tilled field without any kind of tillage treatment, conserving both time and also labor. Due to the fact that sweet corn particle germinates and develops as soon as soil temperatures are at least 55°F, early sweet corn manufacturing in no-till is an overwhelming because of colder soil temperatures. However, by mid-June, floor temperatures in a no-till ar are warm enough for rapid sweet corn particle germination and growth. In addition, no-till reduces soil moisture loss beforehand in the season so more water is obtainable for corn expansion later in the season. If you"re thinking about no-till sweet corn production, the following determinants must be taken into consideration in order to it is in successful: variety, planting date, soil fertility practices, insect pressure and also control, planting equipment, covering crop form and stand, and also weed types and population in the field.

Pest Control

Weed regulate can be completed with a combination of herbicides, cultivation, and also a an excellent crop-rotation system. Corn competes well v weeds, yet the field should be retained weed cost-free until plants are at the very least 24 inches tall. Numerous preemergence and postemergence herbicides are accessible for sweet corn, depending on the specific weed problem and also the corn development stage. If weed infestation levels are mild, cultivation alone may be sufficient to control weeds.

Insects have the right to be a major problem in sweet corn production. The corn earworm, corn borer, armyworm, flea beetle, Japanese beetle, and corn rootworm have the potential to cause crop losses. Security insect populaces with catch or through scouting will assist you identify when you need to use pesticides and also how regularly you should spray.

Only a few leaf conditions reduce sweet corn yields. Stewart"s wilt, a bacter disease, is transmitted by flea beetles feeding ~ above young plants in ~ 7-10 work of tree emergence.

Several animals prefer new sweet corn to other succulent green tissue and also will eat the young seedlings or wait till the young ear the corn is ready to harvest and will help themselves come a sweet corn enjoy the meal in the field. Deer, groundhogs, raccoons, and also red-winged blackbirds can cause serious accident if not controlled. Planting sweet corn in areas surrounded through woods or heavily vegetated hedgerows have the right to increase sweet corn loss caused by this animals. The potential because that such losses need to be accounted for once you build your production and also marketing plan.

Many the the pesticides required for sweet corn production are restricted-use pesticides and require a pesticide patent to purchase. Pesticide applicators tests are usually administered at expansion offices, so you should call your local office because that dates and also times of this examinations. When using any kind of pesticides in her enterprise, psychic to monitor all brand recommendations concerning application rates and personal protection devices (PPE) requirements. Additionally remember that any Worker protection Standards (WPS) use to the owner and to employees.

Harvest and Storage

Harvesting deserve to be done either mechanically or by hand. Brand-new mechanical harvesters usually cost $25,000-30,000, and hand-harvesting costs around $150 per acre. Relying on your labor situation, that is commonly not economic to acquisition a mechanically harvester uneven you have actually at the very least 10 acres of sweet corn. Regardless of the harvest method, you require to check ears for worms, insects, and bird damages to for sure you space marketing a high-quality product.

Immediately after harvest, you must refrigerate and store sweet corn in plastic bags, preferably in the husk, to maintain quality. Sweet corn will certainly retain fairly good ear top quality for 2-3 days if stored at 90 percent humidity and 32°F.

Environmental Regulations

All farming operations in Pennsylvania, including small-scale and also part-time agriculture enterprises, operate under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. A specific part of this legislation is the Nutrient management Act. Sections of the act may or may not pertain to your operation, relying on whether you have actually livestock on her farm. However, all operations may be a source of surface ar or groundwater pollution. As such possibility, you should contact your regional Soil and also Water Conservation district to recognize what regulations may pertain to her operation.

Risk Management

You may wish to think about several risk-management techniques for your operation. First, you must insure her facilities and also equipment. This may be achieved by consulting her insurance certified dealer or broker. Second, you might wish come insure your sweet corn chop with chop insurance. Third, you might wish to insure the earnings of your entire farm through a crop insurance program called AGR-Lite.

Crop insurance money is a federally subsidized program that is easily accessible from private chop insurance agents. The sweet corn policy offers protection against declining income due to damage that causes a yield shortfall. The lot of insurance allowance is based upon the price of cultivation sweet corn in a particular area and pays once the yearly value that the crop is much less than the dollar quantity of coverage. AGR-Lite is a entirety farm policy that consist of all her crops and also is based upon your farm"s pistol revenue as reported ~ above your federal taxes. To use AGR-Lite you must have 5 years of inner Revenue business (IRS) Schedule F forms. If your business structure is one of two people a C or one S corporation, the vital information can be entered into a Schedule F for chop insurance purposes.

For much more on agricultural business insurance, see agricultural Business Insurance. For an ext information worrying crop insurance, call a crop insurance agent or examine the penn State website.

Sample Budget

Included in this publication room three annual budgets: at an early stage season fresh sector sweet corn using plastic mulch, mid to so late season fresh-market sweet corn (hand-harvested), and also mid- to so late season fresh-market sweet corn making use of Bt (transgenic) seeds for manage of ear worms. This budgets utilize custom hire for many of the field work, which could be an ext economical for smaller sized acreages. Farmers who have actually their own tools should substitute their prices for the practice hire. The budgets summarize the receipts, costs, and also net returns for each production option. The sample budgets should assist ensure the all costs and also receipts are included in your calculations. Costs and also returns space often difficult to calculation in budget plan preparation because they are numerous and variable. Therefore, you must think of this budgets together approximations and also make proper adjustments in the "Your Estimate" tower to reflect your certain production and resource situation. This budgets are occurred for one acre; however, your scale of production should be based upon market considerations. An ext information on the use of crop budgets deserve to be found in Enterprise budget Analysis.

You have the right to make alters to the interaction PDF spending plan files for this publication by typing your own prices and quantities in the green outlined cells for any kind of item. The cell outlined in red immediately calculate your revised totals based on the alters you made to the cells outlined in green. Girlfriend will require to click on and include your own estimated price and also quantity info to every one of the environment-friendly outlined cells to complete your customized budget. Once you room done, you deserve to print the budget using the green Print kind button in ~ the bottom the the form. You can use the red Clear form button to clear all the details from your spending plan when you room finished.

Sample budget plan Worksheets

Initial source Requirements

Land: much less than 10 acres


Operator: 45-55 hrs per yearHarvesting and packing: 35-40 hours per acre

Capital: $400-600 per year

For much more Information


American vegetable Grower, Centennial Edition. Willoughby, Ohio: Meister Publishing, 2007.

MacNab, A. A., A. F. Sherf, and J. K. Springer. Identifying diseases of Vegetables. university Park: penn State college of agricultural Sciences, 1998. Pennsylvania Commercial vegetable Guide

Pennsylvania commercial Vegetable manufacturing Recommendations. College Park: pen State, 2013.



Pennsylvania vegetable Growers AssociationRR 1, crate 392Northumberland, PA 17857-9723


Prepared through Michael D. Orzolek, professor emeritus the horticulture; Lynn F. Kime, senior associate in farming economics; and also Jayson K. Harper, professor of farming economics.

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This publication was emerged by the Small-scale and also Part-time Farming task at pen State with support from the U.S. Room of Service.