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Old 08-01-2008, 11:01 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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What's the difference between "Cow Corn" and "People Corn" ?

It is sweet corn season, and a local farmer who has a stand every year is inundated this year because a local paper did a story on him and is damn good sweet corn. He's got several fields growing the stuff, and I walked down to his stand not long ago and was asking questions about the corn. I asked, "why do the top of the stalks on all of the corn in those rows look different than the tops of the other corn?? His answer: well...the darker ones are cow corn and the other ones are people corn to eat!... Then another customer came over and I didn't press him on it. ]

So what gives? What is cow corn? Is it simply the feed corn for cows? Or is he kidding me and all corn is edible just some varieties are not meant for human consumption?
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  #2  
Old 08-01-2008, 11:06 AM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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The corn that animal feed is made from is HARD...the individual kernel shells are very solid. Plus it's not very sweet...all the sugar gets turned into starch before the ears are harvested.

People corn is sweet corn, with soft shells and unconverted sugar.
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  #3  
Old 08-01-2008, 11:18 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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There are all kinds of corn, especially with most varieties today being hybrids. Likely, the "cow corn" was a dent variety and might be harvested while still a bit green if meant for silage, or left until quite mature -- or even dry -- if the grain itself is what's wanted. Sweet corn for people, on the other hand, is always harvested early. I'm imagining its yield is smaller than field corn's which is why they would not just plant the same stuff for everything.

At one point we lived next to a field usually planted in field corn. When the corn was a little short of fully ripe, we'd sneak out at night and twist off a few ears. It was quite good, but not as sweet as the sweet corn we'd get at stores. Later, when the stuff was more mature, it was still quite edible but not nearly as good as sweet corn is.

Last edited by DesertDog; 08-01-2008 at 11:20 AM.. Reason: Fixed a typo
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:04 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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As noted. All corn is Zea mays; the various varieties are, well, varieties. Corn raised for human consumption is sweeter, with relatively less tough kernels. When raised to feed animals (cattle in particular) the focus is on maximum growth (ideally a variety requiring relatively less work, minimizing labor costs or effort required per 100 acres). It's quite possible to eat a variety marketed as "field corn" but the taste will be bland, non as corn-y, and may be tough to chew.

Note: the following paragraph is based on things my father told me as a child 50 years ago. It may be incorrect, but I have no reason to doubt it: In addition to sweet and field corn, there's a third group of varieties, called "flint corn." While field corn may have slightly tougher kernels than sweet corn, flint corn has very tough, coarse kernels, inedible by humans but edible by some animals, hogs and cattle in particular. Supposedly "it grows better in the mountains" == which he never eplained but I always took to mean it did better on slopes and/or higher elevations. It sounds like what jayjay is describing is what Dad meant by flint corn.
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:25 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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What corn is corn meal made from? Definitely not sweet corn.
Also, I detest corn in Mexico -- it's not sweet. I jokingly refer to it as animal corn. When my in-laws were visiting recently, they didn't like the sweet corn that I went through an amazing effort to acquire on the same day it was harvested.
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:35 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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I might dip into the neighbors field and grab an ear of both...with his permission. To test the notion that the two corns are really different....
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:45 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Poly, you're right. I was confusing dent corn with flint corn. But even dent corn is pretty tough compared to sweet corn...
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:05 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Amusingly, raccoons are very good at telling field corn from sweet corn, and they just plain LOVE sweet corn.

I recall a neighboring farm where they planted eight rows of sweet corn (for family use) in the middle of a huge field of field corn. The night before they planed to harvest the sweet corn, the 'coons moved in and demolished those eight rows, leaving the rest of the field intact.

The little buggers are also very good at telling when the stuff is ripe, too.
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:10 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael
Amusingly, raccoons are very good at telling field corn from sweet corn, and they just plain LOVE sweet corn.

I recall a neighboring farm where they planted eight rows of sweet corn (for family use) in the middle of a huge field of field corn. The night before they planed to harvest the sweet corn, the 'coons moved in and demolished those eight rows, leaving the rest of the field intact.

The little buggers are also very good at telling when the stuff is ripe, too.
This doesn't work with the new supersweet hybrids...if you planted them in among field corn, they'd have as much (if not more) chance to be pollinated by the field corn as by their fellow sweet corn plants, which would basically produce field corn when harvested. At least that's what every darn garden book says about planting supersweets...make sure they're separated by at least 500 feet from field corn or regular sweet corn hybrids.
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:15 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
This doesn't work with the new supersweet hybrids...if you planted them in among field corn, they'd have as much (if not more) chance to be pollinated by the field corn as by their fellow sweet corn plants, which would basically produce field corn when harvested. At least that's what every darn garden book says about planting supersweets...make sure they're separated by at least 500 feet from field corn or regular sweet corn hybrids.
Now that's interesting...this field is about 5 sq acres and the farmer has maybe 5 rows. The ones on the south and west side of the field are all ready and ripe to be picked. Then in rows moving north and east he's got corn growing in different stages. Some of it is over my head and the last row is up to my knee. It's an interesting patter, maybe I will go get some pictures of it....
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Old 08-01-2008, 02:44 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlosphr
Now that's interesting...this field is about 5 sq acres and the farmer has maybe 5 rows. The ones on the south and west side of the field are all ready and ripe to be picked. Then in rows moving north and east he's got corn growing in different stages. Some of it is over my head and the last row is up to my knee. It's an interesting patter, maybe I will go get some pictures of it....
That could actually work, too...it's kind of "spacing in time". If the ears of the supersweet aren't developed enough to put out silk when the field corn tassels put out pollen, they won't contaminate, either.

Or vice versa, for that matter.

Last edited by jayjay; 08-01-2008 at 02:44 PM..
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  #12  
Old 08-01-2008, 03:04 PM
Ducktail Ducktail is offline
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Og help me, my mind filled in a 'p' for the 'c' in corn. In both instances.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:15 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Always have to be a little different in Texas
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  #14  
Old 08-01-2008, 03:44 PM
masterofnone masterofnone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael
Amusingly, raccoons are very good at telling field corn from sweet corn, and they just plain LOVE sweet corn.

I recall a neighboring farm where they planted eight rows of sweet corn (for family use) in the middle of a huge field of field corn. The night before they planed to harvest the sweet corn, the 'coons moved in and demolished those eight rows, leaving the rest of the field intact.

The little buggers are also very good at telling when the stuff is ripe, too.
We used to rent out one of our fields to a farmer down the road. One condition of the rent was that he had to run several rows of sweet corn down the middle. I can't recall the name of the strain, but it was a super-sweet hybrid. Never had any problem with it coming out tasting like cow corn. As you indicated, the racoons actually seem to like it the day before it is ripe, and can easily find it in the middle of the field ( as did our Norwegian elkhound, who would sample each ear).

Cow corn usually grows much taller, and with many ears/stalk. It's been a while, but IIRC the cow corn was ~9' tall, while the sweet corn was only ~5' tall. (Perception may be influenced by my age at the time.) If you want to know what cow corn tastes like, keep over ripe ears of regular sweet corn in your fridge for a week or two to let all the sugars convert to starch. Blech.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:48 PM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masterofnone
If you want to know what cow corn tastes like, keep over ripe ears of regular sweet corn in your fridge for a week or two to let all the sugars convert to starch. Blech.
We did that the other day...grabbed a couple ears of corn I thought I just bought....boiled them for a few minutes then crunch,crunch,crunch BLEAGH! Nasty.
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  #16  
Old 08-01-2008, 03:59 PM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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Some people in sweet corn country plant 5-10 rows of field corn next to the road, to minimize loss of their sweet corn through pilfering.
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