Who Is That In My Organic Sweet Corn?

Share this post

corn-organic-trans From Capay Valley Farm Shop

Open up your corn and find a little surprise? Organically grown corn has a pest that many farmers and consumers have learned to live with. Understanding the growing and handling of fresh-picked, organic sweet corn just may increase your appreciation of this summer treat.

Adult corn earworm moths lay eggs on the silks of young corn ears. The caterpillars hatch and crawl down the silk channel into the ear of corn and feed on the silk and the small corn kernels. In the South, the corn earworm overwinters and becomes active early in the growing season, but in the North, migratory flights bring large numbers into a region, usually invading corn later in the season.

Natural predators of the corn earworm eggs and larvae include ladybird beetles, lacewings, parasitic flies and wasps. Currently, there are few organically approved methods to eliminate corn earworm damage. To reduce the damage done by the corn earworm, organic growers have used vegetable or mineral oil and the bacterial pathogen, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), toxic only to caterpillars. Several drops of the oil/Bt mixture is applied directly to the tip of the young ear, where the caterpillars enter. If the caterpillars feed on the oil, they will die. Using this method, the grower has a short window in which to apply the pest control, and it is also rarely 100% effective.

Many stores have accepted the fact that organic corn will have some corn earworm damage. They simply cut off the tip of the corn as soon as it is delivered, then put it out for sale. This is the best way to store your fresh picked organic sweet corn at home too – check for caterpillars and cut off the tip of each ear before placing it into the refrigerator. It is important to take a look at the tip to make sure you have taken off enough and have not left the worm there.

Sweet corn is sweetest just after it has been picked, so you may want to use corn right away if it is possible. If you do need to store it, keep the husk on the corn until you are ready to use it – it will stay fresher.


Subscribe to the WEEKLY BITE

* indicates required


Recent The FruitLife articles:

Summer fruit varieties and when you’ll be seeing them
July 9, 2019
Beehives, swales, and vermicomposting, oh my!
April 29, 2019
Spring fruit varieties and how to enjoy them
April 16, 2019
A tribute to the “Lemon Lady” of Redwood City
March 11, 2019
The FruitGuys New Year’s poem
January 8, 2019
Sowing the seeds of entrepreneurship
October 31, 2018
Give the delicious gift of farm-fresh fruit and healthy snacks
October 4, 2018
Summer to fall transition brings new fruit into the rotation
October 2, 2018
Bring some fruitful fun to your workplace on Tuesday, October 2
September 27, 2018
Farmer suicide is a public health threat and could hurt our food supply
August 14, 2018

More recent articles:

Summer muffin recipe
July 18, 2019
Assumptions can harm both recruiters and job seekers
July 16, 2019
Simple summer salad dressing recipes
July 11, 2019
Easy summer pasta recipe
July 4, 2019
How to create a dress code that works all year
July 2, 2019
More employers are getting serious about time off
June 27, 2019
Two Easy Recipes for Canning Stone Fruit
June 25, 2019
The health benefits of honeydew melon
June 20, 2019
The delicate flavors of white peaches and nectarines
June 13, 2019
Don’t let plantar fasciitis pain break your stride
June 11, 2019

About Us

Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.