Sweetcorn Earlybird F1 is one of the earliest maturing Supersweet varieties currently available. They have about two to three times the sugar level of ordinary varieties.
Originally bred and adapted for the northern parts of the United States and Canada in 1965, it has improved tolerance to cold soil which both aids germination and allows it to mature more quickly.
Extremely popular with home gardeners, Earlybird F1 reliably produces good yield of uniform cobs that are approximately 20cm (8in) in length, with 16 rows of small grains. With superb eating quality, they are deliciously sweet. Sow this early variety with Lark and Wagtail for continuity,
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Sweetcorn 'Earlybird F1' has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
A key indicator that this variety is worth growing in your garden.
Sweetcorn is shallow rooted: protection from winds and water loss in the soil is very important. They grow tall: 75 to 170cm (30 to 65in). so take care not to shade other vegetables. Each plant has an average spread of 45cm (18in).
Each plant carries both male and female flowering parts - the cob being the female part and the tassels at the top of the plant being the male parts.
Sweetcorn is wind pollinated and best planted in large blocks, where the male flowers at the top of the plant have more opportunity to shed their pollen on the female tassels (where the cobs will form) below. Each plant will produce one or two cobs, so work out how many cobs you are likely to need (you can freeze them) and provide enough space to achieve this.
Prepare the site:
Sweetcorn likes free-draining, moisture retentive soil. First remove weeds and dig over the site with a spade, removing any particularly large stones. Level roughly and then work over the area with a rake to leave a fine finish.
To ensure your crop gets off to a flying start, spread some general fertiliser granules over the planting area and gently rake in to the surface. If you can, try to do this two or three weeks before planting or sowing. Corn is a heavy feeder, requiring rich soil. Nitrogen is especially important, since corn is basically a grass. An inch or two of compost or rotted manure will also work, as will feeding with fish emulsion
Sweetcorn seed does not germinate below 10°C (50°F) Start off indoors in spring or sow directly outside from May.
It must have a long warm season to perform well. This means around 70 to 110 frost free days after planting at around 16 to 35°C (61°F to 95°F). Germinates in 10 to 14 days.
Sowing Indoors: Sow indoors in Spring
Start the plants off indoors in cells or pots filled with moist compost. The compost should be moist, but definitely not wet. Wet compost will be cold and reduces the oxygen that the seeds need to germinate. It may even stop the seeds germinating at all. Sow two seeds to each pot. Thin to leave the strongest seedling when they are 2cm (1in) tall.
Plants can go into the soil from May. Using a trowel, set sweet corn plants 25 to 30cm (10 to 12in) with 60cm (24in) between rows to form a block.
Sweetcorn should be grown in blocks to ensure even pollination. There are no rules about how large the block has to be, this will be determined by how many plants you decide to grow.
Sowing Direct: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed, from May
You can grow corn by planting seeds directly into the soil in late spring and early summer, but only once the soil is over 15°C (59°F).Use a dibber to make 2.5cm (1in) holes and sow two or three seeds every 25 to 30cm (10 to 12in) with 60cm (24in) between rows. Cover and water. Thin to leave the strongest seedling when they are 2cm (1in) tall.
In cooler climates it is worth protecting the emerging seedlings with fleece.
Hoe shallowly when weeding to avoid root disturbance and in exposed areas earth up the stems to 13cm (5in) to increase stability.
Although sweetcorn can tolerate high temperatures and drought, this can lead to poor pollination (empty cobs!)
Water regularly, especially if you notice the leaves curling and when the cobs begin to swell. Apply nitrogen fertiliser once the plants are about 20cm (8in) tall and again when they start producing tassels.
Sweetcorn usually matures in August to September, around 85 days from emergence. Each sweetcorn plant should produce one or two cobs. They are ready to harvest when the silky tassels turn brown and the kernels, when pressed with a thumbnail, exude a milky liquid. Simply twist the cob away from the plant to remove.
Try to harvest moments before using, because the sugars start converting to starch the minute you harvest them, Supersweet varieties, however, will stay sweeter for a couple of days. At the very least harvest and eat the same day as this will give the best flavour and sweetness.
The names corn and maize refer to the same crop. Corn originates from British English, where the word corn generally refers to the main crop grown in a locality. In England, wheat was called corn, and in Scotland and Ireland, oats were called corn.
The word Maize comes to us directly from the Taíno, the Native Americans who introduced the crop to Columbus. The Taíno referred to corn as mahiz, which the Spanish adopted as maíz before being Anglicised to maize.
Corn is a member of the grass family, Poaceae, which includes species such as cereal (e.g. wheat, rye, oats, barley), bamboo, and common and many grasses including lawn grass.
There are thousands of varieties available today, making it the top commercial grain crop grown globally.
Types of Corn:
Corn varieties are typically categorised into seven types based on the hardness of their endosperm (tissue surrounding the seeds).
Below are the seven types and their common uses:
Flour corn (Z. mays amylacea) is ground into fine corn flour.
Flint corn (Z. mays indurata) is often used to make coarse cornmeal.
Dent corn (aka field corn; Z. mays indentata), the most commonly grown in the U.S., is used in animal feeds and industry.
Pop corn (Z. mays everta) is, as expected, used to make popcorn.
Waxy corn (Z. mays ceratina) is a glutinous type of corn that is mostly grown in East Asia as a substitute for starch.
Pod corn (Z. mays tunicata) is the most primitive form of corn similar to the wild maize grown for thousands of years in the Americas. It is mostly grown ornamentally.
Sweet corn (Z. mays saccharata) is primarily eaten on the cob or canned and frozen.
Sweet corn is further divided into three categories based on genetics and sugar levels (lowest to highest): normal sugary (Su), Sugary Enhances (Se), and Supersweet (Sh2).
When planting sweet corn, separate them from field corn to avoid accidental cross-pollination, which results in unsweetened kernels.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 35 Seeds Seed Form Natural Common Name Early variety. Supersweet. Other Common Names Sweetcorn, Sugar corn, Corn Other Language Names FR: maïs doux Family Poaceae Genus Zea Species mays Cultivar Earlybird F1 Synonym Zea mays var. rugosa, Maize Hardiness Hardy Annual Time to Sow Start off indoors in spring or sow directly outside from May. Harvest For continuity, sow this early variety with Earlybird and Lark.