How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Harvesting and storing corn

In the summer, corn reaches its prime eating condition about 3 weeks after tasseling; in spring or late fall the interval may be about 4 weeks. As the ears approach maturity, sugars change to starch, the hull becomes tougher, and the kernels pass through stages called pre-milk, milk, early dough, and dough. At temperatures around 60° F, the ear remains in good condition for about 5 days. At 85° F it passes through all these stages in 1 to 2 days. Ears are ready to harvest when the husk is tight, the silks are somewhat dried, and kernels are fully developed and, if punctured, show a milky liquid. Avoid disturbing the husks on ears that are not ready to harvest. If harvesting during dry and windy conditions or in temperatures above 95° F, harvest rapidly because corn will quickly lose quality. Pick the ears in the coolest part of the day and either refrigerate or use quickly.

Harvesting periods for corn in sections of California*

North and North Coast
Monterey County north
July to Oct.

South Coast
San Luis Obispo
County south

Late June to early Nov.

Interior Valleys
Sacramento, San Joaquin,
and similar valleys
June to early Aug.
Oct. to Nov.

Desert Valleys
Imperial and
Coachella valleys

May to early June
Nov. and early Dec.

*For other areas, contact your local Master Gardener


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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