That seems to be one of the more common ones for growing baby corn. I'll also just add, boy, what a lot of work. It's no easier/faster to husk a baby corn than one that's fully grown. It was worth doing once but I will think twice before doing it again.
Interesting reading. Thanks. Did you ever let any mature?
I have. what you wind up with is a finger sized "indian corn" (you wouldn't be able to tell it from the photos with the article, but when mature, Chires Baby is red) with hard kernels. In theory these can be used for popcorn though it really usually isn't worth it (the kernels pop alright, but since they are so small, the resultant popped kernels come out about the size of the little dangly bits on nomal popped kernels.) Actually most baby corn is simply regular corn picked really really early. All that the so called "baby corn" seeds have advantage wise is a simply a cob that stays tiny (which I would imagine gives you a little extra harvels time) and the fact that it produces a lot of cobs so you get a more reasonable harvest (since every ear of baby corn is a whole ear, using the special seeds means you get 30-40 per plant as opposed to 1-2)
Castanea, real baby corn is immature sweet corn. It is grown almost exclusively in the tropics, and that mostly in Asia. It is resource-intensive crop to grow. Definitely a luxury crop, and more so than artichokes since artichokes at least have surprisingly concentrated food value (high in protein and minerals), plus artichokes are easy to harvest.
It could be grown in temperate climates using sweet corns that are adapted to temperate latitudes. Here is a PDF white paper that WSU has on the topic:
Interestingly, their trial farm was located in Montesano, down-river from my farm. Probably even cooler due to closer proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The baby corn grown was actually marketable and sold to the farmer's retail customers, who were given instruction sheets regarding what to do with it.
Chires has been offered as a substitute, but I think it's a flint corn. Some sources think it shouldn't matter, but I wonder. The stuff I grew was almost inedible, and I have read accounts from several other informants who thought it was awful. Real fresh baby corn should be tender, mildly sweet, and almost "nutty" in flavor. It is quite good, but few in the USA have had it, only having had the canned stuff which is like judging sweet peas on canned peas, or sweet corn on canned corn.
The experiment done by WSU did include Chires apparently, misidentified as "Baby". But they did not mention any ratings based on actual flavor or tenderness, just marketable size, shape, and other visual characteristics.
One possibility would be a multi-eared sweet corn such as Golden Midget. 3-5 ears per plant, which is probably about the same as Chires (it's not 20 contrary to the description). Fully ripe it's a mini sweet corn. I'm surprised multi-eared sweet corns exist; most of the hits I got were web pages decrying the tragedy of multiple ears per stalk; they've been breeding that trait out for a while now. Better yet though would be a multi-eared corn on a full-sized plant. I have my doubts if a small corn plant can produce enough sugar to make good-tasting baby corn. That's probably one of the problems with Chires. Golden Midget might have the same problem.
You don't NEED multiple ears per plant but since it's already so resource intensive to grow, and the immature ears probably don't put the plant out all that much, it probably makes sense to use a multi-eared variety. One concern I would have is that if the mature ears are only 4 inches long, the baby corn will be proportionally even smaller. That was a problem I saw with Chires. 1" baby corns. WSU claimed that it has to be harvested within 1-3 days of silking in order to be within size limits, but they did not consider what timing is optimal for tenderness and flavor. In any case within 1-3 days of silking, Chires would be apt to be unusably SMALL rather than too big. Golden Midget might have the same problem.
In short I think this topic needs more research and development.
I'm just curious how the seed from Evergreen would do compared to Chires and others. I am wondering if it truly is an Asian variety developed specifically to be used for baby corn.
I'm a bit dubios about that. A lot of things about it seem to be sort of at odds witth those corn traits I usually associate with Asian corn strains. It's a flint (flint and pop corns are not usually one's Asians go for) it's red (again most of the Asian corn strains I've bumped into are straight white or yellow, except for glutinous corn, which often has some to a lot of purple kernels as well) Most telling of all is that the growth habit of Chire's (where you get a LOT of tillers, most of which are about the same size as the main stalk so that the corn is more of a clump than a stalk) is a pretty primitive trait (it's more along the lines of the kind of habit you'd expect in teosinte than in a so called "modern" corn) I'm not saying it is impossible that it's Asian in origin, but it looks more like the kind of thing you'd get from a re-introduction of older genes somewhere in South America. Though I suppose the two are not mutually exclusive (it could have been bred/developed in asia from material taken from Deep in South America). Given what atash said about most baby corn being sweet corn in origin, what I'd like to see is a test involving one of the small number of sweet corns that have the small cob trait. I can't think of any examples at the moment, but I'm sure there are some*.
*I seem to recall someone telling me there was a sweet (not pop) version of tom thumb, but have never seen it. Blue Jade is really more of a midget plant than a midget cob. And of coruse there are the dozen or so sweet kernels I culled off that mini popcorn ear a year or two ago, but as those are F1 or even P1, I have no way of knowing if the genes will stay together (actually the resultant cobs could end up looking really weird, as normal sized kernels try to fit on a miniature cob or vice versa.
Joseph: I've sure been enjoying the forum recently with all the garden photos and comments. Thanks. I been preoccupied with family issues, and overheated by the high altitude desert sun, but sure is a good read even if I'm not posting as much as I'd like.
Jul 25, 2014 0:37:09 GMT -5