Baby corn cultivation : A profitable crop with multiple benefits

Chandra Kumar Singh
Baby corn plays a significant role in ensuring livelihood security and augmenting income level of farmers in peri-urban areas. Its cultivation is gaining momentum in nearby areas of cities. It is a young maize cob plucked at an early stage before fertilization and used as a vegetable. It has an attractive cream to light yellow colour with desirable size of 6.0 to 10.0 cm. in length and 1.0 to 1.4 cm. Width in diameter, highly nutritive, sweet and crispy in taste. Three or four pickings can be taken and plants remain green even after picking of baby corn. The green plant stalks also provide quality fodder to the livestocks. Additional income is also obtained through intercropping with other vegetable, pulse, and flower crops.
The young unfertilized cob of maize harvested within 1-3 days of silk emergence is known as ‘baby corn’.
Baby corn is a warm weather crop. It grows from sea level to 3000 metre altitudes. The most suitable temperature for germination is 210C and for growth is 320C. Annual rainfall is 50-75 cm.
Baby corn is best adapted to well drain sandy loam to silty loam soil.
Baby corn kernels as seed bed which is friable, well aerated, and moist and weed free to provide better contact between the seed and soil. The first ploughing should be done with soil inverting plough, so that at least 20-25 cm. deep soil may become loose. It should be followed by two to three inter-crossed ploughing.
Add 10 to 15 tons of well rotted organic matter in the form of F.Y. M. or compost at the time of field preparation. Baby corn requires 150 kg Nitrogen (315 kg Urea), 80 kg phosphorus (150 kg D.A.P), 75 kg potash (125 kg M.O.P), and 25 kg Micronutrient per hectare. Apply total quantity of D.A.P, M.O.P, Micronutrient and one third of urea at the time of sowing and split up reaming two thirds of urea into two equal doses, one at 30-35 days after sowing and rest at teaselling (male flower initiation) stage.
The sowing of baby corn is generally done with the start of rains e.g. from 15th March to end of April.
A 35-40 kg/ha seeds required for maximum grain yield. Keeping a spacing of 17.5 X 15 cm is most optimum for higher grain yield.
Seed should be treated with Bavistin @ 2gm/kg seed and Imidacloprid @4ml/kg seed.
Shallow furrow is opened by a country plough or Kudal and seeds are dropped in them and planting is done thereafter to cover the seeds.
The maize crop is kept weed free for 30-45 days after sowing. Two manual weeding is required for this purpose.
Atrazine or Simazine 50% [email protected] -1.25kg/ha should be mixed in 1000 litre of water and sprayed on the soil surface just after sowing.
Application of Lasso @5 litres/ha should be mixed in 1000 litre of water and evenly sprayed in one hectare 30-45 days after sowing.
In Arunachal Pradesh baby corn cultivation depends on rainfall.
Plant protection
Seed rot and seedling blight: Poor emergence of seedling, presence of red brown lesion on radical and wilting of seedlings.
Treat the seed with 3 gm of Captain or Thiram per kg of seed.
It generally attacks when cob formation stars in the field. Insects first feed on the tender leaves and then bore towards the central shoots. This results in drying up of the central shoots and certain dead hearts.
Endosulfan @ 1.5 litre should be mixed in 1000 litres of water and evenly prayed in one hectare.
The insect cuts the seedlings at the ground level. They live in soil during the day and feed at night.
Furadan 3G 30kg/ha should be mixed in the soil before sowing.
For better quality, baby cobs harvesting are done when the cobs are 8-10 cm long, 1- 1.5 cm in diameter and weigh 7-8 gram. Harvesting can begin when the first silk has emerged about 0.5 – 1.0 cm. Subsequently, the second and third harvest can be done. If silk grows older and longer, the quality deteriorates. First picking of the cobs can be done 45-50 days after planting, depending on the variety, followed by further 3-4 pickings on alternate days. The fresh cobs with husks must be sent to the market immediately to avoid weight loss.
Some of the advantages of growing baby corn are
DIVERSIFICATION- It can be promoted and grown round the year.
EMPLOYMENT GENERATION-It provides employment in the form of cultivation, marketing, processing and export.
EARNING MONEY IN SHORT SPAN OF TIME – Generally, farmers have to wait a long time for income from their crops. Baby corn is a short duration crop and farmers can earn money in the shortest possible time.
POTENTIAL FOR EXPORT – Baby corn has a great demand in the international market. Foreign exchange can be earned by exporting baby corn and its products.
QUALITY FODDER FOR LIVESTOCK – Green fodder obtained after harvesting of baby corn can be used as feed to the livestock throughout the year.
VALUE ADDITION– Value addition of baby corn is possible through preparation of several recipes viz. soup, pakoras, salad, etc.
PROCESSING– Baby corn can be processed to improve its shelf-life and round the year availability through processes such as canning, dehydration and freezing.
The writer is at Chandra Kumar Singh, KVK Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
For further details contact: -  Public Relations & Media Management Cell, CAU, Imphal. Email: [email protected]