Heirloom corn is a most useful crop. That is why we put two pounds of heirloom corn in the long term storage seed kit. Corn will grow almost every where in the United States. It was
grown by the Indians before Columbus. It makes an excellent and lasting food for humans and animals. Almost every domestic animal will eat corn. Chickens, pigs, cows, goats, sheep, etc will all eat corn. When harvested correctly, it will keep all winter, or as long as you keep it dry. People can eat it before it is mature, (as sweet corn), or let it dry and grind it. When to harvest it depends on what you intend to use it for.
If you want to eat your heriloom corn fresh, look for the cornsilks that are newly turned brown. That is an
indication that the corn is mature enough for fresh eating. While the ear is still on the stalk, open the end of it and pull back the husks. You should be able to tell if it is filled out enough to eat. The kernals should be fully formed, but not dented yet. If corn is not harvested soon enou
gh, the sugars turn to starch and it is not very tastey. This is why fresh heirloom corn right from the garden is so good. It is not as sweet as the hybrids, but I have read several times that corn has been hybridized so much that it is missing 17 trace minerals that its ancestors had. This is the stage that it should be harvested if you want to freeze or can it also. I recommend freezing it over canning it.
Heriloom corn produces excellent food for your animals also. Let it dry on the stalk. this will happen in September or October. The kernals will dent and the whole plant will turn dry and golden. It's life is finished. Corn is an annual plant. If picked too wet and stored, the corn will mold and be useless. So be sure it is dry and hard. It can be stored on the ear or shelled. There are simple hand shellers that are very helpful for a small crop.
We grow both hybrid and open pollinated corn. We like them both.