Baby corn is the ear of maize (Zea mays L.) plant harvested young, especially when the silks have either not emerged or just emerged, and no fertilization has taken place, depending on the cultivar grown. The dehusked young ears of baby corn can be eaten as vegetable, whose delicate sweet flavor and crispiness are much in demand. Importantly is free from pesticides and its nutritional value is comparable to popular vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, eggplant and cucumber. It’s by products such as tassel, young husk, silk and green stalks provide good cattle feed.
Baby corn provides benefits to people from every walk of life and all disciplines. Farmers can grow four crops in a year, and the production of baby corn generates employment amongst the rural poor’s, from children to the elderly persons. Other sectors of society who are also benefited from the crop are the regional brokers who buy from farmers, canneries, wholesale merchants (for the local market), retail merchants and exporters.
Uses of Baby corn
Baby corn is a popular vegetable in USA, Europe and Southeast Asia. The demand for baby corn is rapidly increasing in urban areas in India. Baby corn is not a separate type of corn like sweet corn or popcorn and any corn type can be used as baby corn. It is delicacy, which can be profitably used in prolific types of corn i.e. those types , which bear two or more ears per plant. The shank with unpollinated silk is baby corn. The economic product is harvest just after the silks emerge (1-2 cm long). Baby corn has immense potential as a salad and as cooked vegetable. It is used as an ingredient in ChopSuey (Chinese dish), soups, deep fried baby corn with meat, rice and other vegetables. Large number of dishes may be prepared from baby corn as discussed subsequently. Baby corn is highly nutritive. The nutritive value of baby corn is comparable to any common vegetable (Table 1). Since only immature cob is harvested as the economic produce, the crop meant as baby corn can be harvested within 50-55days. Thus in the areas adjoining cities or other urban areas (peri-urban agriculture) multiple crop of baby corn can be raised which would fetch greater income to the farmers. Baby corn can be effectively used as both a nutritious vegetable and as an export crop to earn valuable foreign exchange. After harvest the still young plants may be used as fodder for cattle.
|Nutrient||Baby Corn||Cauliflower||Cabbage||Tomato||French Bean||Lady’s Finger||Radish||Brinjal||Spinach|
|Moisture Content (%)||89.10||90.80||91.90||93.10||91.40||89.60||94.40||92.70||92.10|
|Carbo Hydrates (g)||8.20||4.00||4.60||3.60||4.50||6.40||3.40||4.00||2.90|
General AgronomyThe soil requirement, land preparation and crop management practices for baby corn are the same as that for sweet corn and popcorn. For baby corn two systems are used. One system uses standard populations of about 58000 plants per ha, where the top ear is left on the plant for grain corn or sweet corn, and subsequent ears harvested for baby corn. The second system uses high plant populations at a spacing of 45 cm x 20 cm with 2 plants per hill, having a population density of 175000 plants/ha, where all ears are harvested for baby corn. The standard plant populations produce yields of about 46.5 q unhusked ears (4.65 q husked ears) per ha, while the high populations produce yields of about ’93-106 q unhusked ears (9.3-10.60 q of husked ears ) per ha. A seed rate of 20-25 kg/ha is recommended. This would thereby realize more number of cobs and consequently more returns to the farmers. No variety has been exclusively bred for baby corn purpose in India. However, early and prolific varieties like Him 123, VL42, and Him 129. Early composite and hybrid variety Prakash, PEHM 1 & 2 can successfully be cultivated as baby corn (Table 2) . At the time of selection of cultivar preference is to be given for short stature and prolific cultivars. Hybrids are preferred over open pollinated varieties because hybrids are more uniform in flowering. Thus they may require only 4-5 times plucking. Contrary to this nonuniform flowering of varieties leads to prolonged harvesting. Short stature materials can be well accommodated in higher plant densities. Table: 2. List of cultivars recommended for cultivation for baby corn purpose and their growing season
|Time of Harvest||Yield|
|Him 123||Ganga 9||Kharif & Rabi||Across the Country in|
India in Rabi
|45-50 Days in kharif|
50-55 Days in Rabi
|VL42, HIM 129,|
VL Makka 16, Chandan Safed,
D-765,Farm Sumeri, Kanchan,
MCU-508, VL Makka-41,
Kiran(J 660), VL Makka-88,
Pusa Comp-1, surya,
Gujarat Makki-1, Madhuri
(sweet corn), Panch Ganga,
Megha,Gurat Makai 2,
Amar ( D-941),
Narmada Moti, Priya sweet
Harvesting and ProcessingThe ears are harvested (45-50 days after emergence) when the silks are 1-2 cm long, i.e., within 1-2 days after silk emergence. Feed corn varieties are harvested at silking, while supersweet varieties may be harvested up to the time silks are about 5 cm long but still fresh. Ears quickly become too long and tough. Suitable time for harvesting of ears may be determined by sampling for size. Harvesting is usually done in the morning when the moisture is high and the temperatures are low. The picking of baby corn Is to b e done once in three days and generally 7-8 pickings are required depending on genotypes used. In a good crop on an average 15-19 q/ha baby corn can be harvested. Additional income may also be obtained through sale of green fodder, which may yield up to 250-400 q/ha. The husk is to be carefully removed so as not to break or damage the ear. Ears intended for processing must be carefully hand husked and de-silked. Subsequent to the removal of the ear husks, the shanks are cleared of the silks. Then the shanks are graded based on their size and colour and packed in polythene sheets before marketing. In many cases baby corn for vegetable use is marketed without dehusking of the cobs. This reduces labour involved in processing but fetches less market price. Optimum size for market and cannery industries is 4.5-10 cm long and 7-17 mm diameter of dehusked cobs. Yellow coloured cobs with regular row arrangement fetch better market price. Harvested baby corn may be stored for 3-4days at 10 0C without much effect on its quality. For long term storage and distant transport, baby corn is canned in brine solution (3%), sugar (2%) and citric acid (0.3%) solution and stored under refrigerated conditions. Baby corn may also be stored in vinegar. Baby corn pickle is also gaining popularity in Indian market and it already has an established international market, particularly in Europe.
Recipe of Some Popular Dishes made from Baby corn
- Baby Corn with Carrots
- Moroccan Couscous salad with Baby Corn
- Goat Cheese Dip with Crudites
- Miniature Soup with Baby Corn