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Dent Corn - Pencil Cobb

Dent Corn - Pencil Cobb

Zea mays

HEIRLOOM -A skinny cob not much larger than a pencil means more kernels per ear. Germinates in cooler soils than many corn varieties and is a reliable producer under a variety of growing conditions. The "tight shuck" on the ears deters pests from feasting. A great corn to grow for milling or clean chicken feed. Space farther apart than regular corn. One of the oldest types of cultivated corn, it is so named for the dent in the middle of each kernel, formed when the soft starch dries. Excellent dried for milling, especially as grits, or to curry favor with a chicken flock. Dent corn is also edible when young and fresh, although not as sweet as more common sweet corn varieties. To harvest, let ears dry on stalk and pick after a light frost if possible. Store in mouse proof containers for the winter.

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Average Seed / oz Seed / 100' Row Average Yield / 100' Row Days to Harvest
100 4 oz 150 ears 110
Planting Season Ideal Soil Temp Sun Frost Tolerance
After Last Frost 65-80°F Full Sun Frost Sensitive
Sowing Method Seed Depth Direct Seed Spacing Seeds Per Packet
Direct Seed 1/2" 3" 85
Mature Spacing Days to Sprout Production Cycle Seed Viability
8-12" 7-10 Annual 4-6 years

Bed Preparation

Corn is a frost sensitive annual that prefers full sun and is tolerant of a wide variety of soils. Corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder, so planting in beds which previously contained nitrogen-fixing crops such as beans, peas, etc. can give plants a boost.

Planting

Corn does not transplant well, so direct-seed outdoors once the danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures have warmed to 60˚ F. Plant seeds ½-1" deep and 2-3" apart in rows 18-24"apart. Thin seedlings so that mature plants are 3" apart. The rule of thumb is to grow at least four 10' rows to assist its pollination by wind.

To extend your harvest, sow an early-maturing type every 2 weeks for 6 weeks, or plant early, mid-season, and late types at the same time. Corn is traditionally planted with bean and winter squash, a trio known as the 3 sisters.

Harvest

For sweet corn, harvest when kernels have filled in and contain milk. To check ripeness, peel back husk and pierce a kernel to see evidence of the milky liquid. For dent and popcorn, allow to dry on stalk and harvest around 1st frost.

Seed Saving

Corn is monoecious plant, meaning it has separate male (tassel) and female (ears)parts on each plant. Select the earliest and fullest cobs on each plant for seed saving. If you are unsure if how much space is between you and your next possible corn growing neighbor, cover the tassel and ears with bags to protect from cross-pollination. Allow the ears to develop and dry out on the stalk for as long as possible. When ready to dry, pull back the husks and place in a rodent-proof area. Once fully dried, carefully break off the seeds and store in a cool, dry place.