About Baby Corn
Baby corn’s miniature size makes consumers think that it grows from “baby” corn plants, but the tiny ears of baby corn are simply immature ears from regular-sized corn plants (Figure 1). Specialty cultivars are available for baby corn production, but baby corn can also be harvested from most common corn cultivars. The purpose of this publication is to describe how to select a cultivar and grow baby corn. Marketing baby corn is also discussed.
Growing Baby Corn
There are two different methods for producing baby corn. In the first method, baby corn is the primary crop, and a cultivar is selected and planted to produce only baby corn. In the second method, baby corn is the secondary crop, the primary being either sweet corn or field corn. In this latter case, the top ear is allowed to fully mature as sweet or field corn, and one or two lower ears are harvested for baby corn (Galinat 1985; Wang et al. 2010).
Selecting a Cultivar
There are specialty cultivars of corn, such as Baby Corn, that have been developed specifically for baby corn production. Many other sweet corn (su, se, sh2) and field corn (Su) cultivars may also be suitable for baby corn production. Plants of baby corn cultivars tend to produce more ears per plant than other corn cultivars. However, many common corn cultivars will also produce quality baby corn. Table 1 lists several cultivars that produced marketable baby corn in field trials in southwest Washington. These cultivars can be grown to produce baby corn as either a primary or a secondary crop.