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Organic Sweet Corn Seeds

Sally Painter
There are four types of sweet corn.

Organic sweet corn seeds are available in hybrid or non-hybrid varieties.

What Makes It Organic?

A certified organic seed must come from organic parents grown in organic soil.

  • No GM (Genetically Modified) seeds
  • No chemical or synthetic fertilizers can be used in the seed production.

Requirements for Sweet Corn Production

In order to produce at its optimum, sweet corn seeds need certain environmental conditions.

Sunlight and Growing Conditions

Sweet corn is what's called a short-day plant with a daily requirement of a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Corn thrives in hot environments. Too much water will rot your seeds before they can germinate. Plant seeds in soil that has a temperature between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

Soil Amendments

Sweet corn is a heavy feeder. You need to amend you soil to accommodate its growth demands. Corn thrives on a high-nitrogen diet. Try companion planting by sowing pole beans that produce large quantities of nitrogen with nitrogen-loving corn. In addition to planting beans with your corn, blood meal is a popular choice for adding nitrogen to your soil.

Hybrid Versus Non-Hybrid

Just because you purchase organic seeds, doesn't mean you'll be able to harvest the seeds and sow them for next year's crop. For the best result in seed harvesting, you'll need to plant a non-hybrid variety of corn.

Hybrid: Advantages and Disadvantages

Hybrid seeds are cross-pollinated with two parent seeds of different varieties. This technique is used to produce stronger disease-resistant plants that have a higher yield. If you attempt to harvest hybrid seeds and use them to sow next year's crop, you'll have mixed results. Many hybrid seeds are sterile which mean you might not have a crop. If your hybrid seeds do sprout, you might get a mixed variety of corn since the original seeds were the product of two different varieties. If you do end up with the same variety as the previous year, your crop might be weaker and more susceptible to disease. Your corn stalks may have a lower yield than the previous year.

Non-Hybrid: Advantages and Disadvantages

A non-hybrid or open-pollinated seed has not been altered and performs as nature intended. This kind of seed assures the same kind of crop as the parent crop. Non-hybrids have adapted to the growing environment and many times demonstrate an increased resistance to diseases common in your area.

Summation: Which to Use

By creating hybrid seeds, a supplier knows you'll be a repeat customer and purchase seeds from the company for next year's crops and all of the others thereafter. Many gardeners and farmers feel corn hybrid seeds are often superior to non-hybrid because of their resistance to disease and higher yield potential, while others claim non-hybrid are a better choice.

Organic Sweet Corn Seeds: Four Types

There are four types of sweet corn from which you can choose, with many cultivar (created and maintained for cultivation) varieties.

Standard (su)

This type of sweet corn is considered to be the old-fashioned varieties. This corn tastes sweet and meaty. Most are heirloom corns, although some hybrids have been created. Su corn is best when cooked within 30 minutes of harvesting before the sugar turns into starch.

  • Jubilee - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Sunglow - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Silver Queen - White corn (hybrid)
  • Golden Cross Bantam - Yellow (hybrid)

Heirlooms - Non-Hybrids:

  • Country Gentleman - Yellow or White - Circ. 1890
  • Yellow Bantam - Yellow - Circ. 1902
  • Black Aztec - Black - Circ. 1860
  • Stowell's Evergreen Sweet Corn - White - Circ. 1873
  • True Gold Sweet - Yellow - Circ. Unknown (Native American crop)

Sugary-Enhanced (se)

Se corns have a higher sugar content than the su variety and retain its sweetness several days after it's harvested as long as it is stored in a cool environment.

  • Cloud Nine - White (hybrid)
  • Platinum Lady - White (non-hybrid)
  • Bodacious - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Sugar Buns - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Silverado - White (hybrid)
  • Argent - White (hybrid)
  • Snowbelle - White (hybrid)
  • Clockwork - White and yellow (hybrid)
  • Delectable - Yellow and white (hybrid)

Supersweet (sh2)

The sh2 corn is also higher in sugar content that the su corn, but it doesn't convert much of the sugar into starch. Again, it must be stored in a cool place and can remain good up to 7 or 10 days.

  • Kandy Corn - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Pegasus - White (hybrid)

Triplesweet or Synergistic (sy)

Another hybrid corn created to be higher in sugar for sweetness and disease resistant.

  • Renaissance - Yellow and white (hybrid)
  • Nantasket - Yellow and white (hybrid)
  • Montauk - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Bojangles - Yellow (hybrid)
  • Providence - Yellow and white (hybrid)
  • Cameo - Yellow and white (hybrid)
  • Charmed - Yellow and white (hybrid)

Planting Your Organic Corn Seeds

Unlike the vegetables in your garden, corn is a grain and is wind-pollinated. This means you need to plant enough corn so it can cross-pollinate. In a field garden, the rule of thumb is 4 rows of corn an average of 20 feet in length will ensure a good crop.

Choosing To Cross-Pollinate

You can cross-pollinate with other sweet corn varieties, but avoid field and popcorn varieties. These two kinds of corn change the taste of your corn from sweet to starchy. Also avoid cross-pollinating extra sweet corns with standard corns.

Avoiding Cross-Pollination

The best way to avoid cross-pollination with other corn varieties is to plant different varieties at least 400 yards apart. Reduce the risk of cross-pollination by planting different cultivars about a month a part so your corn won't mature at the same time.

Buying Seeds

You can purchase organic seeds that are either hybrid or non-hybrid.

Growing Corn

You can plant enough non-hybrid organic sweet corn seeds so you can harvest seeds to use for next year's crop.

Organic Sweet Corn Seeds