Baby corn (Zea mays L.) consists of unfertilized young ears harvested 2 or 3 days after silk emergence. The present study, conducted in 2009, was the culmination of three successive years of production and evaluation of baby corn at Western Kentucky University Agriculture Research and Education Center (36.93 N, 86.47 E) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of different schemes of harvests on baby corn (BC) yield, grain maize (GM) yield, and estimated economic return. Harvest treatments were 1) no BC harvest, only GM harvest, 2) first harvest as BC, final harvest as GM, 3) first and second harvests as BC, final harvest as GM, and 4) first, second, and third harvests as BC, final harvest as GM. Average BC yields (kg/ha) for Treatments 2, 3, and 4 were 1445.1, 2681.8, and 3437.5; Average GM yields (kg/ha) for Treatments 1, 2, and 3 were 12,522.2, 8226.5, and 1380.9; respectively. Since few grain kernels were found after three BC harvests (Treatment 4), no usable GM yield was produced. BC and GM yields were used for evaluating the economic returns. Results indicated that the descending sequence of treatments for economic returns were Treatments 4, 3, 2, and 1. Although the three BC harvest system (Treatment 4) was the most profitable, if required the most human labor and critical timing of harvests. In Kentucky, BC could be grown as an additional crop or to supplant a limited amount of traditional GM hectarage.
vegetable crop corn