A Guide to Baby Corn Production: An Integrated Crop Solution

A Guide to Baby Corn Production: An Integrated Crop Solution

Baby corn, the unfertilized and undeveloped cobs of the maize plant, is a quick and inexpensive crop to grow, making it well suited as a rotational crop in any horticultural operation. 


For optimal results, use recommended cultivars supplied by Seed Co such as Thaigold, Prime Gold & SG18. Seed Co also supplies excellent sweetcorn varieties including Sentinel and Mint.

Soil and Fertilizer

Most soils are suitable for baby corn production. For maximum yields, your soils should be in the following range:

- pH 5.0-6.4
- P205 (ppm 30-40)
- K2O (meq 0.2-0.4)

A general recommendation for baby corn fertilization is: 350-400 kg/ha Compound D or Z should be banded 5 cm below and to the side of the seed. On very light sandy soils, use 200 kg / ha AN as topdressing split application at knee height and waist height. On heavier soils, less AN may be used.


A population of 120 000 plants per hectare is ideal. This can be achieved by several methods:

- Machine planting: Rows 75cm apart with one seed every 11 cm apart.
- Hand planting: Rows 75cm apart with 3-4 seed every 22cm apart thinned to 2-3 plants at two weeks.
- Hand planting: Beds 1.5m center to center. Two rows per bed +/-30cm apart. Intra row spacing either one seed per 11cm or 2-3 seed per 22cm stations. 

The quantity of seed used depends on the cultivar used and can vary from 30-60 kg/ha. Count the number of seeds per 1kg in order to accurately establish the quantity of seed required per hectare.


It is important to keep the surface of the soil moist during germination, thereafter 24 to 32mm per week should be applied depending on the weather. The crop should never be stressed at any time as this adversely affects yield.

Agro-chemicals for Baby Corn

- Maize Streak Virus: Gaucho 600 FS @ 5,5ml per kg seed
- Weeds: Grasses and Broadleaf: Bateleur Gold @ 1,2lts per ha
- Cutworm: Karate Zeon @ 100ml per ha
- Stalk borer and pink bollworm: Karate Zeon @ 200ml per ha


Plants must be de-tasseled just after tassels have emerged. This is important to ensure that pollination does not take place and result in seed growth causing excessive cob size. It also brings on harvesting faster, increases the number of cobs and gives better cob development. Labor for de-tasseling is approximately 5.5 labor days per hectare. Note: Some Baby Corn varieties are male sterile so do not require de-tasseling.


Reaping starts within a week of de-tasseling. It is crucial to harvest at the correct stage as cobs become oversized very rapidly and then have no market value. As a very rough guideline, the cobs must be harvested when 1cm of silk is exposed. This, however, varies with the different varieties as well as the cob number being removed from the plant. There can be up to three cobs picked per plant. The unsheathed cobs should be between 1 and 2.5cm in diameter and between 7 and 12cm in length. Plants should be harvested daily to ensure that one does not get behind picking. Harvesting continues for a period of two to three weeks. At the peak of harvesting, 10 pickers per hectare should be enough and should be able to pick well over 100kg per person per day. The gross yield (including the sheaths) should amount to about 11t/ha which will give an average 10% net export yield.

Post Harvesting Handling

Cobs must be placed in the shade immediately after harvesting. The cobs can be covered with wet hessian to keep cool. They must then be stored in a cool place like a shed and will not deteriorate while the husk is still on. Cobs can be sent to the pack house either in the complete sheath, or as cigars, where the outer layers of the sheath have been removed and the bottom of the sheath cut off. This reduces transport costs.

Grading and Packing

If grading and packing are to be done on farm then the cobs must be checked for worm damage, deformities and other blemishes. All silks must be removed as any remaining on the cob soon turn brown. A guide for grading and packing is to start with 40 punnets per person per day and to increase to a target of 60. Once the husk has been removed it is essential to place the cobs into cold storage as soon as possible (3 degrees).


The tassel, silks, husks and stalks are all a good source of nutrition rich in protein. Approximately 50 tons of fresh leaf and stalk per hectare will be available at the end of picking. It will have the following breakdown:

- 22.7% dry matter containing:
- 5.7% total protein
- 1.8% fat
- 26.45 ber
- 59.9% nitrogen free extract (NFE)
- 6.2% minerals (0,31% calcium and 0.04% phosphorus)
- 57.3% total digestible nutrient
- 2.2% digestible protein

The nutrition is similar to that of fresh para-grass. 

This guide to baby corn production provides an integrated crop solution for any horticultural operation looking to diversify their crop rotation. With the right cultivars, soil conditions, and care, baby corn can be a profitable addition to your farm.



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