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Gah!!! Something is eating my flour corn

 
gardener
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Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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Something is eating my Painted Mountain flour corn on the stalk, ripping open the husks and nibbling. It's just past the milky stage, most of the husks ae still completely green. They seem to be wrecking 2-3 cobs per night, and I have less than 100 cobs.

Can I harvest them all now? Would they still be good for flour?

1597500981181-1866654449.jpg
Nibbled corn!
Nibbled corn!
 
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Location: Northants, United Kingdom
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There a story in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books of corn being attacked before it was ready (they had blackbirds). Their solution was to pick it while they still had some harvest and dry it off the plant for what they refer to as parched corn.  Nb I wouldn't use any ears that have been tampered with, in case the mystery nibbler is carrying / spreading ickiness.
 
Catie George
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Well.... neighbour came over. "Is this yours?" Holding a corn cob by the husks....

Turns out they (likely racoons) are nibbling on a few, and filching more. I picked a couple of the driest, they are still not at fully bright/dark colours.
There is an old building next to the garden we would love to tear down. Wondering if the racoons, squirrels or whatever that live in it think they have landed in a bed and breakfast!


Would really like a reference for when the starch changes from sugar to starch as I want to use these for flour.
 
Catie George
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I am picking them slowly, as the cobs start to have even a touch of brown. It's too early, some of them are still sweet tasting and I think the auleurone isnt quite formed based on colour,  but the raccoons or whatever are getting more bold. I am finding munched and spat corn cobs all over my yard and the neighbours.

The picked corn is pretty though - here is what I picked today.
Painted-mountain-corn-cobs.jpg
Painted mountain corn cobs
Painted mountain corn cobs
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Corn seed is viable about 17 days after flowering. It takes something like 50 days after flowering to dry down. Therefore I'd say the seed is perfectly viable now.

All of those shown in the photo a very viable.

 
Catie George
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Thank you! !!!

That's a huge relief to know. This is my first year with flour corn/dry corn so i am prety clueless.  All my googling could find was "wait until the husks are dry to pick", which would be lovely, if the local wildlife allowed. I will pick more tomorrow then.

I sometimes wonder if most internet garden writers have actually grown the plants they write about, or just regurgitate other articles, with all the top resulfs having almost the same info.

I may only get 30 or 40 cobs off my experimental patch this year, with many plants not producing ears, so each one feels precious.
 
pollinator
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We get similar losses from birds, probably more sparrows than blackbirds. They peck the ends of cobs where they can get in under the husk.
 
Posts: 87
Location: SE Indiana
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Coons are certainly destructive on corn but here the primary and far more of a problem are squirrels. I finally figured that out when I realized a coon can't climb a corn stalk without breaking it but a squirrel can. I trap both of them year round plus I have fences and solar electric fences.  

Corn seed is viable much earlier than I used to think but I believe that the longer it can stay on the stalk the better. You get a much more robust seed and one that can be stored much longer if it can dry down naturally. On occasion when I'v had just a few special plants I want seed from I will dig the plant (with a nice root ball) about time time the silks are just starting to brown. I clip off the top of the stalk with the tassel and first leaf or two and replant in a big tub. I can crowd as many as fifteen plants in a 30 gallon tub, I fill in with a little good compost,maybe a chicken turd or two. I bring that up on the hot south patio and wrap it completely with chicken wire. Just keep it watered and it works great, the big lower leaves don't even wilt and the seed ears finish up nicely. The plants are done growing, they apparently don't need the space and nutrients they did earlier, just need to stay alive while the ears dry down.  

Garden writers internet or otherwise IMO are for the most part garden writers. They may or may not also garden occasionally. Gardeners who occasionally write are are far more valuable, although unfortunately less common.
 
Catie George
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I happened to go out early this morning and caught one of the pests in action - a plague of black birds.My dog had fun running them off (they landed in the garden next door).  

However, I am pretty sure they are not the only pest - there was some wild shaking of a bush behind the patch as I approached that looked like a small to medium sized animal, plus my neighbour claims she saw a raccoon with a cob hiding in her cedars.

I would believe squirrels, too, they definitely live in the shed and plant walnuts in my garden.

Who knows? Maybe I have a trifecta (or more) of hungry pests chewing my corn.

Next year, I am going to fence my garden.

Mark - I like your idea, but I have bean plants tangled in with my corn, so it would be challenging to extract them. I might try it next year though.

 
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