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Silver King corn growing in a backyard garden.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – As many home gardeners know, there are many varieties of corn to choose from. Essentially there is sweet corn and field corn—with a lot of different varieties falling within these two categories.

As a home gardener, there are plenty of things to know before planting corn. There are some varieties that are better for creaming and storing and some better for making feed. Sweet corn is classified by its sweetness, while field corn is mainly used for animal feed, flour and meal. Deciding on what type of corn to plant all depends on the end goal.

Varieties for Creaming or Storing

The best varieties to grow for eating or making creamed corn depends on an individual’s particular taste preferences.

“Some of the popular varieties include Silver Queen, Silver King and Peaches and Cream,” said Brian Brown, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent. “A person’s preference is going to depend on the corn’s level of sweetness and sugar retention, which is classified by su – sugary, se – sugary enhanced, sh2 – supersweet and triple sweet.”

All of these varieties would make the perfect addition to any garden for those that are planning on creaming, storing or eating right off the cob. Sweet corn is picked when it is the most tender and ready to eat. This can be seen and determined by the brown silks at the top of the ear.

Varieties for Animal Feed, Cornmeal or Corn Flour

Field corn can be grown for both human and animal consumption. Unlike sweet corn, field corn is harvested when its kernels are dry and hard, making it the best option for things like flour and animal feed.

“Field corn can be used for animal feed, meal, flour and popcorn,” Brown said. “There are a few varieties that are for eating, such as Tennessee Red Cob, which is an heirloom variety that is really malty and starchy.”

When corn is dry and hard, it is easier to grind into powder for flour and meal. If this was tried with sweet corn it would just turn to mush. Animals, such as cattle and chickens, love the taste of corn in their diet.

More Information

More information on sweet corn is available in Planting and Growing Sweet Corn. Read more information about garden vegetable varieties by visiting www.aces.edu.

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