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Advice on saving late planted corn for seed

 
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Hey all so I know that corn can be saved extremely easily. My issue is I'm not sure the corn has progressed enough to be viable next year. This is the first year for my garden and I was an idiot and planted my corn about 3 months late. Now most of it is at sweet corn stage.

One of the stalks produced very admirably, no exaggeration it is 9 ft tall and has 5 ears, so I wanted advice because my areas predicted first frost is Oct 10 and I would very much like this kind of performance next year. At this point I think I have two options one is pick it right after first frost or let it go until the stalks totally die.

Please let me know what you guys think.
 
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My opinion of first frost date is the date when the first frost MIGHT happen. I'm guessing you're in Zone 6? It might be two three weeks before you see frost. But then; you might see it next week.

Good luck, your corn sounds awesome.
 
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I'm not a super seed saver and don't have much experience with corn, but you could leave an ear on the corn to mature more fully while picking the others.  The way I see it, the one that is left will gain more nutrients if the others are picked, and as such I would also leave the best looking one to get the best genetics.  But my reasoning might be flawed.  Joseph Lofthouse would be the guy to ask for better seed saving instructions.
 
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I'd leave it on the stalk for now. If you get a light frost, the leaves might turn brown but the plant will still be alive and moving things from the roots into the kernels. If a hard freeze is forecast, go out the day before and pull entire stalks out of the ground, then put them somewhere non-frozen, dry and out of reach of rodents for a few weeks. The plant will move as much as it can into the ears as it gives up the ghost and you should end up with viable seed.

We had a really mild winter this year, maybe half a dozen actual frosts from May to September. There are still a few stumps from the last corn patch in the ground and some of them are still green. They might even put out a little feeble growth before senescence does them in.
 
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If the seeds have reached the sweet corn stage, then I expect them to be fully viable, albeit not fully mature. Corn seed becomes viable around 17 days after pollination, which is about a week prior to sweet corn stage.

A hard freeze risks damaging the seeds. I concur with Phil's suggestion of harvesting the day before a hard freeze is expected. Animals can abscond with the seeds (coons, birds, mice, grasshoppers, kids). Rain can damage seeds, causing them to germinate or mold. If those sorts of issues are imminent, I'd choose to harvest earlier rather than later.
 
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Thank you all for the advise! I will remove a few of the least mature ears as they probably won't be ready. I am in 6B about 30 miles soithwest of st louis mo. I am having some mold issues, displosia I believe pic attached of one example, would this render the seeds infertile? Could this be avoided with a vinegar wash after harvest or similar? This is "kulli" black corn from baker creek. For reference most of the stalks are about 7 ft tall with the tallest which is the one that went crazy around 9 ft tall.
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Joseph Lofthouse
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I'd call those plants and seeds very mature. Since mold is already a problem, I'm be picking mine before the next rainstorm.
 
David Pritchett
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I'd call those plants and seeds very mature. Since mold is already a problem, I'm be picking mine before the next rainstorm.



Thank you so much! I will be picking to save this afternoon then! I am still quite inexperienced but I wanted this kind of production next year if possible and I like the idea of seed saving. High yield and tall plants are both desirable characteristics to me as they can help shield out the neighbors dogs.

I will say the variety is described as being very productive if it has ample access to water when it tassels. This year we had plenty of rain from tasseling to the ears forming which also caused some mold.
 
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