Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Todd Willian (Director),Dr. Elmer Gray,Dr. Martin Stone

Degree Program

Department of Agriculture

Degree Type

Master of Science


Maize (Zea mays L.) ranks third as a food crop after wheat and rice and is characterized not only as a cereal crop but also as a vegetable. Maize used as a vegetable is known as “baby corn”. Baby corn consists of unfertilized young ears harvested 2 or 3 days after silk emergence. The present study was implemented in 2009 at Western Kentucky University Agriculture Research and Education Center (36.93 N, 86.47 E) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The purpose of the study was to compare the effect of different schemes of harvest on baby corn (BC) yield, grain maize (GM) yield, and estimated economic return. Experimental harvest treatments were 1) no BC harvest, only GM harvest, 2) first harvest as BC, final harvest as GM, 3) first and second harvests as BC, final harvest as GM, and 4) first, second, and third harvests as BC, final harvest as GM. Average estimated BC yields (Kg/ha) for Treatments 2, 3, and 4 were 1445.1, 2681.8, and 3437.5; GM yields (Kg/ha) for Treatments 1, 2, and 3 were 12522.2, 8226.5, and 1380.9; respectively. Since few grain kernels were found after three harvests for BC (Treatment 4), no usable GM yield was produced. BC and GM yields were used for evaluating the economic returns. Results indicated that the sequence of best economic returns would be obtained by harvesting BC three times (Treatment 4), first two harvests for BC and the final for GM (Treatment 3), first harvest for BC and subsequent for GM (Treatment 2), and only for GM harvest (Treatment 1). Although the pattern for only BC harvest was the most profitable system, the human labor requirement and critical timing of harvest limited its production. In states similar to Kentucky, BC could only be grown as an additional crop or to supplant a limited amount of traditional GM hectarage.


Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Food Processing | Food Science