As lovers of corn of the cob we remember well the first time we had Silver King a white corn that was tender, sweet, white and so delicious. Then another white corn, Silver Queen, came on the scene and we thought it even more tender, sweet, and delicious. Since then we have been stuck in the rut of only buying white corn and trying to find Silver Queen but there is a lot more to tenderness and sweetness of corn than Silver Queen can deliver.

Firstly, the color of the corn is not an indicator of tenderness or sweetness. Yellow and bicolor corns can be just as tender as white corn. Second, there are many kinds of corn that are far more tender and sweeter than Silver Queen or King. They fall into one of four categories;

1. Regular sweet corns (abrev. SU): These are sweet corns but the sweetness is rapidly lost as sugar is turned to starch once the kernels are mature and so the corn must be harvested and eaten quickly to enjoy the sweetness. Example Silver Queen (white).

2. Sugar enhanced corns ( abrev. SE): These corns are sweeter than regular sweet corn (SU) but the sweetness lasts longer. They are unsurpassed in tenderness and have a creamy texture. Growing this kind of corn benefits from isolating them from any other corns you might grow, but isolation is not absolutely necessary for success. Example: ‘Bodacious’(yellow).

3. Supersweet corns (abrev. SH2): These are very sweet corns, in fact, twice as sweet as regular corn. The sweetness and tenderness last for up to 2 weeks so the time of harvest and time in the refrigerator is more flexible than regular sweet corn or sugar enhanced corn. Because the kernels are filled with sugar rather than starch the seed will be shriveled and lighter than other corns and this should be taken into consideration when buying seed. The disadvantages of this corn is that they must be planted in warm soil (65 F or warmer) and must be isolated from other kinds of corn to prevent cross pollination that will seriously effect quality. Example:’ Obsession’(bicolor).

4. TripleSweet corns: These corns combine the best qualities of the supersweet and sugar enhanced corns. They are the sweetest corns, are exceptionally tender, and have a crunchy texture. Their sweetness and tenderness are long lasting and they do not have to be grown in isolation. Example: ‘Serendipity Hybrid (bicolor).

If you are interested in growing these extra sweet corns read the backs of the seed packets to find those that have these qualities. If you have a feed store in your neighborhood try there; they will probably have cultivars that are most suitable for your growing conditions.

By Karen