Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saving Seed Corn

Most of the sweet corn is gone now. Either consumed fresh, canned, and frozen as whole kernel corn or corn on the cob. I have mentioned already that we left a half row of the open pollinated variety Golden Bantam to dry in the field for seeds for next year. We had continued to watch the patch for either deer or coon damage. Everything was going fine ...we had a plan.

Then came Marlowe the 70 pound puppy with a corn fetish. Who knew? O Wise One walked out in the hay field behind the garden to find a collection of evidence left behind, namely shucks and cobs. Looked like we had been hit by a HERD of coons. Change of plans.  

So we picked what was left in the field. It is not completely dry but well on it's way. Now we could hang the corn from the shed rafters but then we would have to watch for bird and rodent damage. Not to mention the dog would probably find a way to climb the ladder to it! Can ya tell I am a little exasperated with that dog? We needed a different solution.   

I found this small collection of old corn seed saving racks in an old farming book online. Printed off a copy and gave them to O Wise One! I bet he hates when I do that and hand him a picture and expect him to come up with that in a hurry. You can see the page below...


Saving the Seed Corn

Here is a handy device for preserving select ears of seed corn. It consists of a wide board fastened between two supports nailed to the edges. The board stands upright on one end and may be as long as desired. Drive heavy spikes through it from the opposite side and stick an ear of corn upon each spike. This allows for the passage of air, and the ears can be examined without removing them from the rack. It is much to be preferred to expensive wire racks, as each nail may be numbered and a record kept of the ears in this way. This rack was designed at the Idaho experiment station.

Rack for Seed Corn

Here is a simple arrangement for keeping choice ears of seed corn. Take a 2-inch square timber for the upright, and make a solid base by boring a hole through the two base pieces, then drive the timber into it. Drive 4-inch spikes through the upright at intervals of 6 inches from four sides, and stick the ears of corn on these spikes by thrusting the same into the butt of the cob. Numbers may be placed above each spike, so that records can be kept of all of the corn. The corn should be placed on this rack as soon as picked and husked, and may be left there until planting time if the rack is placed in a dry room where rats and mice cannot get at it. A large post strongly mounted on a heavy pedestal may be used in a manner similar to the small upright described above. The bigger the post and the larger the number of spikes used, the greater the capacity of the rack, of course. It is a good plan to make the pedestal heavy and strong in order that it may not be tipped over too easily.

Drying and Keeping Seed Corn

Never let it freeze before it is dry. Farmers have had seed corn exposed to a temperature of 30 degrees below zero without injuring its vitality, and have had it ruined at 10 degrees above zero. We would not recommend kiln-drying for the general farmer, as this is only practicable where a grower is in the seed business. A very convenient way is to take four pieces 4 x 4, 6 feet long, set them up in a square, and nail laths on them two and two opposite. Leave a 6-inch space between the laths, so the corn will have plenty of ventilation. Lay your corn on this to dry, and if thoroughly dry it can lay there all winter.


But by gosh he rooted around in the scrap lumber pile and came through for us. 

And the remaining corn seed is now finishing it's drying process tucked in the corner of the pantry. Once it completely dries then we will take it off the cob and put it in bags and it will go in the freezer. But for now it is safe and out of the way. It may not be the prettiest solution but for a good solution in a hurry it worked. 

For those of you new to saving corn it is a pretty low tech skill. Mother nature really does it for you. Heat from the sun, little moisture and corn just naturally dries out. All you really have to do is keep the darn dogs out of it. It is also pretty universal. 

Either for food or seeds it is really the same process 

Simplicity at it's best

Anyone else out there dry corn and save the seeds and want to share your process? My grandpa always hung his over the wood stove : ) 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. Hope you are saving a few ears of corn for seed for Marlowe's very own row of corn. Corn is the number one ingreident in a lot of dog foods. My dogs love to chew on the old cobs if they can get one.

  2. Granny used to leave the husks on but braid them hanging the braided ears where the varmints hopefully could not find them.

  3. CQ,

    Your going to have plenty of seed for next season. Great looking corn drying rack.

    I'm so disappointed I didn't plant corn this year. Next season, I must plant!!!

  4. That picture of naughty Marlowe and the corn cob is so sweet (to a non corn grower, of course) but I do understand your frustration. We gave up trying to grow corn in our suburban garden because of corn smut. No matter what I tried, we'd always be disappointed at harvest. Except for your problem of having extra help eating, it is lovely to read about your sweet corn and hope that you won't have to share so much of it with the coons next year. Thanks for the vicarious corn-growing pleasure.

  5. One year I did seed corn and hung it over my wood clothes drying rack. It worked well.

  6. I'm still giggling over the mental image of a HERD ... a HERD!! ... of coons, contentedly snacking away :)

  7. Our corn didn't work out this year. Some of it got smut or something similar. Most of it didn't ripen well, and the rest of it the coons got.

    Yours looks great!

  8. Another great post! I forgot all about Grandpa saving and drying the corn. Very interesting! Oh...I love your blog!

    Blessings to you and your family,

  9. I loved all the pictures.. and that one of Marlowe is hilarious.. I can hear him saying "Uhoh.. busted!" Cracks me up. Silly dog. One of my cousins dogs used to go to the garden and eat his onions.. and "they say" dogs shouldnt eat them.. He couldnt keep his out.

    That corn drying rack is pretty cool.. What a blessing to have a man like yer honey to whip that creation out..


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